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Full text of "What answer? [A novel]"

S. 6. & E. L. ELBERT 



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WHAT ANSWER? 



BY 



ANNA E. DICKINSON 




BOSTON: 

TICKNOR AND FIELDS. 

1868. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by 

ANNA E. DICKINSON, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of 
Pennsylvania. 



University Press : Welch, Bigelow, & Co.. 
Cambridge. 



WHAT ANSWER? 



CHAPTER I. 

" In flower of youth and beauty's pride." 

Drydejt. 

A CROWDED New York street, — Fifth Avenue 
at the height of the afternoon ; a gallant and 
brilliant throng. Looking over the glittering array, 
the purple and fine linen, the sweeping robes, the ex- 
quisite equipages, the stately houses ; the faces, delicate 
and refined, proud, self-satisfied, that gazed out from 
their windows on the street, or that glanced from the 
street to the windows, or at one another, — looking 
over all this, being a part of it, one might well say, 
" This is existence, and beside it there is none other. 
Let us dress, dine, and be merry ! Life is good, and 
love is sweet, and both shall endure ! Let us forget 
that hunger and sin, sorrow and self-sacrifice, want, 
struggle, and pain, have place in the world." Yet, even 
with the words, " poverty, frost-nipped in a summer 
suit," here and there hurried by ; and once and again 
through the restless tide the sorrowful procession of 
the tomb made way. 



2 What A?iswerf 

More than one eye was lifted, and many a pleasant 
greeting passed between these selected few who filled 
the street and a young man who lounged by one of 
the overlooking windows ; and many a comment was 
uttered upon him when the greeting was made : — 

" A most eligible parti ! " 

" Handsome as a god ! " 

" O, immensely rich, I assure you ! " 

" Is lit he a beauty ! " 

" Pity he was n't born poor ! " 

« Why ? " 

" O, because they say he carried off all the honors 
at college and law-school, and is altogether overstocked 
with brains for a man who has no need to use them." 

"Will he practise?" 

" Doubtful. Why should he ? 

" Ambition, power, — gratify one, gain the other." 

"Nonsense! He '11 probably go abroad and travel 
for a while, come back, marry, and enjoy life." 

" He does that now, I fancy." 

" Looks so." 

And indeed he did. There was not only vigor and 
manly beauty, splendid in its present, but the "possi- 
bility of more to be in the full process of his ripening 
days," — a form alert and elegant, which had not yet 
all of a man's muscle and strength ; a face delicate, 
yet strong, — refined, yet full of latent power \ a mass 



What Answer? 3 

of rippling hair like burnished gold, flung back on the 
one side, sweeping low across brow and cheek on the 
other ; eyes 

" Of a deep, soft, lucent hue, — 
Eyes too expressive to be blue, 
Too lovely to be gray." 

People involuntarily thought of the pink and flower 
of chivalry as they looked at him, or imagined, in 
some indistinct fashion, that they heard the old songs 
of Percy and Douglas, or the later lays of the cava- 
liers, as they heard his voice, — a voice that was just 
now humming one of these same lays : — 

" Then mounte ! then mounte, brave gallants, all, 
And don your helmes amaine ; 
Death's couriers, Fame and Honor, call 
Us to the field againe." 

" Stuff ! " he cried impatiently, looking wistfully at 
the men's faces going by, — " stuff ! We look like gal- 
lants to ride a tilt at the world, and die for Honor and 
Fame, — we ! " 

" I thank God, Willie, you are not called upon for 
any such sacrifice." 

" Ah, little mother, well you may ! " he answered, 
smiling, and taking her hand, — " well you may, for I 
am afraid I should fall dreadfully short when the time 
came ; and then how ashamed you 'd be of your big 
boy, who took his ease at home, with the great drums 



4 What Answer? 

beating and the trumpets blowing outside. And yet 
— I should like to be tried ! " 

" See, mother ! " he broke out again, — " see what a 
life it is, getting and spending, living handsomely and 
doing the proper thing towards society, and all that, — 
rubbing through the world in the old hereditary way ; 
though I need n't growl at it, for I enjoy it enough, 
and find it a pleasant enough way, Heaven knows. 
Lazy idler ! enjoying the sunshine with the rest 
Heigh-ho ! " 

" You have your profession, Willie. There 's work 
there, and opportunity sufficient to help others and do 
for yourself." 

" Ay, and I '11 do it ! But there is so much that is 
poor and mean, and base and tricky, in it all, — so 
much to disgust and tire one, — all the time, day after 
day, for years. Now if it were only a huge giant that 
stands in your way, you could out rapier and have at 
him at once, and there an end, — laid out or trium- 
phant. That 's worth' while ! " 

" O youth, eager and beautiful," thought the mother 
who listened, " that in this phase is so alike the world 
over, — so impatient to do, so ready to brave encoun- 
ters, so willing to dare and die ! May the doing be 
faithful, and the encounters be patiently as well as 
bravely fought, and the fancy of heroic death be a 
reality of noble and earnest life. God grant it ! 
Amen." 



What Answer? 5 

"Meanwhile," said the gay voice, — "meanwhile it 's 
a pleasant world ; let us enjoy it ! and as to do this 
is within the compass of a man's wit, therefore will 
I attempt the doing." 

While he was talking he had once more come to 
the window, and, looking out, fastened his eyes un- 
consciously but intently upon the face of a young girl 
who was slowly passing by, — : unconsciously, yet so 
intently that, as if suddenly magnetized, a flicker of 
feeling went over it ; the mouth, set with a steady 
sweetness, quivered a little ; the eyes — dark, beauti- 
ful eyes — were lifted to his an instant, that was all. 
The mother beside him did not see ; but she heard 
a long breath, almost a sigh, break from him as he 
started, then flashed out of the room, snatching his 
hat in the hall, and so on to the street, and away. 

Away after her, through block after block, across 
the crowded avenue to Broadway. " Who is she ? 
where did she come from ? / never saw her before. 
I wonder if Mrs. Russell knows her, or Clara, or 
anybody ! I will know where she lives, or where she 
is going at least, — that will be some clew ! There ! 
she is stopping that stage. I '11 help her in ! no, I 
won't, — she will think I am chasing her. Nonsense ! 
do you suppose she saw you at the window ? Of 
course ! No, she did n't ; don't be a fool ! There ! I'll 
get into the next stage. Now I '11 keep watch of that, 



6 What Answer? 

and she '11 not know. So — all right ! Go ahead, 
driver." And happy with some new happiness, eager, 
bright, the handsome young fellow sat watching that 
other stage, and the stylish little lace bonnet that was 
all he could see of his magnet, through the intermi- 
nable journey down Broadway. 

How clear the air seemed ! and the sun, how 
splendidly it shone ! and what a glad look was upon 
all the people's faces ! He felt like breaking out into 
gay little snatches of song, and moved his foot to the 
waltz measure that beat time in his brain till the irate 
old gentleman opposite, whom nature had made of a 
sour complexion and art assisted to corns, broke out 
with an angry exclamation. That drew his attention 
for a moment. A slackening of speed, a halt, and 
the stage was wedged in one of the inextricable 
"jams" on Broadway. Vain the search for her stage 
then ; looking over the backs of the poor, tired horses, 
or from the sidewalk, — here, there, at this one and 
that one, — all for naught ! Stage and passenger, 
eyes, little lace bonnet, and all, had vanished away, 
as William Surrey confessed, and confessed with re- 
luctance and discontent. 

" No matter ! " he said presently, — " no matter ! I 
shall see her again. I know it ! I feel it ! It is writ- 
ten in the book of the Fates ! So now I shall content 
me with something " — that looks like her he did not 



What Answer* 7 

say definitely, but felt it none the less, as, going 
over to the flower-basket near by, he picked out a little 
nosegay of mignonette and geranium, with a tea-rose- 
bud in its centre, and pinned it at his button-hole. 
" Delicate and fine ! " he thought, — " delicate and 
fine ! " and with the repetition he looked from it down 
the long street after the interminable line of stages ; 
and somehow the faint, sweet perfume, and the fair 
flower, and the dainty lace bonnet, were mingled in 
wild and charming confusion in his brain, till he shook 
himself, and laughed at himself, and quoted Shakespeare 
to excuse himself, — " A mad world, my masters !"' — 
seeing this poor old earth of ours, as people always do, 
through their own eyes. 

" God bless' ye ! and long life to yer honor! and may 
the blessed Virgin give ye the desire of yer heart ! " 
called the Irishwoman after him, as he put back the 
change in her hand and went gayly up the street. 
" Sure, he ? s somebody's darlint, the beauty ! the saints 
preserve him ! " she said, as she looked from the gold 
piece in her palm to the fair, sunny head, watching it 
till it was lost in the crowd from her grateful eyes. 

Evidently this young man was a favorite, for, as fa 2 
passed along, many a face, worn by business and care, 
brightened as he smiled and spoke ; many a counte- 
nance stamped with the trade-mark, preoccupied and 
hard, relaxed in a kindly recognition as he bowed and 



8 What Answer? 

went by ; and more than one found time, even in that 
busy whirl, to glance for a moment after him, or to re- 
member him with a pleasant feeling, at least till the 
pavement had been crossed on which they met, — - a 
long space at that hour of the day, and with so much 
more important matters — Bull and Bear, rise and fall, 
stock and account — claiming their attention. 

Evidently a favorite, for, turning off into one of the 
side streets, coming into his father's huge foundry, faces 
heated and dusty, tired, stained, and smoke-begrimed, 
glanced up from their work, from forge and fire and 
engine, with an expression that invited a look or word, 
— and look and word were both ready. 

"The boss is out, sir," said one of the foremen, 
" and if you please, and have got the time to spare, I 'd 
like to have a word with you before he comes in." 

"All right, Jim ! say your say." 

" Well, sir, you '11 likely think I 'm sticking my nose 
into what does n't concern me. 'T ain't a very nice 
thing I 've got to say, but if I don't say it I don't know 
who in thunder will ; and, as it 's my private opinion 
that somebody ought to, I '11 just pitch in." 

" Very good ; pitch in." 

" Very good it is then. Only it ain't. Very bad, 
more like. It 's a nasty mess, and no mistake ! and 
there 's the cause of it ! " pointing his brawny hand 
towards the door, upon which was marked, "Office. 



What Answer? 9 

Private," and sniffing as though he smelt something 
bad in the air. 

" You don't mean my father ! " flame shooting from 
the clear eyes. 

" Be damned if I do. Beg pardon. Of course I 
don't. I mean the fellow as is perched up on a high 
stool in that there office, this very minute, poking into 
his books." 

" Franklin ? " 

" You 've hit it. Franklin, — Abe Franklin, — that 's 
the ticket." 

" What 's the matter with him ? what has he done ? " 

" Done ? nothing ! not as I know of, anyway, except 
what 's right and proper. 'T ain't what he 's done or 's 
like to do. It 's what he is." 

" And what may that be ? " 

" Well, he 's a nigger ! there 's the long and short of 
it. Nobody here 'd object to his working in this place, 
providing he was a runner, or an errand-boy, or any- 
thing that it 's right and proper for a nigger to be ; but 
to have him sitting in that office, writing letters for the 
boss, and going over the books, and superintending 
the accounts of the fellows, so that he knows just what 
they get on Saturday nights, and being as fine as a fid- 
dle, is what the boys won't stand ; and they swear 
they '11 leave, every man of 'em, unless he has his walk- 
ing papers, — double-quick too." 



10 What Answer? 

" Very well ; let them. There are other workmen, 
good as they, in this city of New York." 

" Hold on, sir ! let me say my say first. There are 
seven hundred men working in this place : the most of 
'em have worked here a long while. Good work, 
good pay. There ain't a man of 'em but likes Mr. Sur- 
rey, and would be sorry to lose the place ; so, if they 
won't bear it, there ain't any that will. Wait a bit ! I 
ain't through yet." 

"Go on," — quietly enough spoken, but the mouth 
shook under its silky fringe, and a fiery spot burned 
on either cheek 

"All right. Well, sir, I know all about Franklin. 
He 's a bright one, smart enough to stock a lot of us 
with brains and have some to spare ; he don't inter- 
fere with us, and does his work well, too, I reckon, — 
though that 's neither here nor ' there, nor none of our 
business if the boss is satisfied ; and he looks like a 
gentleman, and acts like one, there 's no denying that ! 
and as for his skin, — well ! " a smile breaking over his 
good-looking face, " his skin 's quite as white as mine 
now, anyway," smearing his red-flannel arm over his 
grimy phiz ; " but then, sir, it won't rub off. He 's a 
nigger, and there 's no getting round it. 

" All right, sir ! give you your chance directly. 
Don't speak yet, — ain't through, if you please. Well, 
sir, it 's agen nature, — you may talk agen it, and 



What Answer? n 

work agen it, and fight agen it till all 's blue, and 
what good '11 it do ? You can't get an Irishman, and, 
what 's more, a free-born American citizen, to put him- 
self on a level with a nigger, — not by no manner of 
means. No, sir ; you can turn out the whole lot, and 
get another after it, and another after that, and so on 
to the end of the chapter, and you can't find men 
among 'em all that '11 stay and have him strutting 
through 'em, up to his stool and his books, grand as 
a peacock." 

" Would they work with him ? " 

" At the same engines, and the like, do you mean ? " 

" Yes." 

" Nary time, so 't ain't likely they '11 work under 
him. Now, sir, you see I know what I 'm saying, and 
I 'm saying it to you, Mr. Surrey, and not to your 
father, because he won't take a word from me nor 
nobody else, — and here -s just the case. Now I ain't 
bullying, you understand, and I say it because some- 
body else 'd say it, if I did n't, uglier and rougher. 
Abe Franklin '11 have to go out of this shop in precious 
short order, or every man here '11 bolt next Saturday 
night. There ! now I 've done, sir, and you can fire 
away." 

But as he showed no signs of " firing away," and 
stood still, pondering, Jim broke out again : — 

" Beg pardon, sir. If I 've said anything you don't 



12 What Answer? 

like, sorry for it. It 's because Mr. Surrey is so good 
an employer, and, if you '11 let me say so, because I 
like you so well," glancing over him admiringly, — " for, 
you see, a good engineer takes to a clean-built ma- 
chine wherever he sees it, — it's just because of 
this I thought it was better to tell you, and get 
you to tell the boss, and to save any row ; for 
I 'd hate mortally to have it in this shop where 
I 've worked, man and boy, so many years. Will 
you please to speak to him, sir ? and I hope you 
understand." 

" Thank you, Jim. Yes, I understand ; and I '11 
speak to him." . 

Was it that the sun was going down, or that some 
clouds were in the sky, or had the air of the shop 
oppressed him ? Whatever it was, as he came out he 
walked with a slower step from which some of the 
spring had gone, and the people's faces looked not so 
happy ; and, glancing down at his rosebud, he saw 
that its fair petals had been soiled by the smoke and 
grime in which he had been standing ; and, while he 
looked, a dead march came solemnly sounding up the 
street, and a soldier's funeral went by, — rare enough, 
in that autumn of i860, to draw a curious crowd on 
either side ; rare enough to make him pause and sur- 
vey it ; and as the line turned into another street, and 
the music came softened to his ear, he once more 



What Answer? 13 

hummed the words of the song which had been haunt- 
ing him all the day : — 

" Then mounte ! then mounte, brave gallants, all, 
And don your helmes amaine ; 
Death's couriers, Fame and Honor, call 
Us to the field againe," — 

sang them to himself, but not with the gay, bright 
spirit of the morning. Then he seemed to see the 
cavaliers, brilliant and brave, riding out to the en- 
counter. Now, in the same dim and fanciful way, 

he beheld them stretched, still and dead, upon the 
plain. 



CHAPTER II. 



" Thou — drugging pain by patience." 

Arnold. 



ACES cleaned, and fluting and ruffling done 
■* — ' here," — that was what the little sign swing- 
ing outside the little green door said. And, coming 
under it into the cosey little rooms, you felt this was 
just the place in which to leave things soiled and torn, 
and come back to find them, by some mysterious pro- 
cess, immaculate and whole. 

Two rooms, with folding-doors between, in which 
through the day stood a counter, cut up on the one 
side into divers pigeon-holes filled with small boxes 
and bundles, carefully pinned and labelled, — owner's 
name, time left, time to be called for, money due ; 
neat and nice as a new pin, as every one said who 
had any dealings there. 

The counter was pushed back now, as always after 
seven o'clock, for the people who came in the evening 
were few ; and then, when that was out of the way, 
it seemed more home-like and less shoppy, as Mrs. 
Franklin said every night, as she straightened things 
out, and peered through the window or looked from 



What Answer? 15 

the front door, and wondered if " Abram were n't later 
than usual," though she knew right well he was punc- 
tual as clock-work, — good clock-work too, — when 
he was going to his toil or hurrying back to his home. 
Pleasant little rooms, with the cleanest and bright- 
est of rag carpets on the floor ; a paper on the walls, 
cheap enough, but gay with scarlet rosebuds and 
green leaves, rivalled by the vines and berries on the 
pretty chintz curtains ; chairs of a dozen ages and 
patterns, but all of them with open, inviting counte- 
nances and a hospitable air ; a wood fire that looked 
like a wood fire crackling and sparkling on the 
hearth, shining and dancing over the ceiling and the 
floor and the walls, cutting queer capers with the big 
rocking-chair, — which turned into a giant with long 
arms, — and with the little figures on the mantel-shelf, 
and the books in their cases, softening and glorifying 
the two grand faces hanging in their frames opposite, 
and giving just light enough below them to let you 
read " John Brown " and " Phillips," if you had any 
occasion to read, and did not know those whom the 
world knows ; and first and last, and through all, 
as if it loved her, and was loath to part with her for 
a moment, whether she poked the flame, or straight- 
ened a chair, or went out towards the little kitchen to 
lift a lid and smell a most savory stew, or came back 
to the supper-table to arrange and rearrange what was 



1 6 What Answer? 

already faultless in its cleanliness and simplicity, 
wherever she went and whatever she did, this fire- 
light fell warm about a woman, large and comfort- 
able and handsome, with a motherly look to her per- 
son, and an expression that was all kindness in her 
comely face and dark, soft eyes, — eyes and face and 
form, though, that might as well have had " Pariah " 
written all over them, and "leper" stamped on their 
front, for any good, or beauty, or grace, that people 
could find in them ; for the comely face was a dark 
face, and the voice, singing an old Methodist hymn, 
was no Anglo-Saxon treble, but an Anglo- African 
voice, rich and mellow, with the touch of pathos or 
sorrow always heard in these tones. 

" There !" she said, "there he is ! " as a step, hasty, 
yet halting, was heard on the pavement ; and, turning 
up the light, she ran quickly to open the door, which, 
to be sure, was unfastened, and to give the greeting to 
her "boy," which, through many a year, had never 
been omitted. 

Her boy, — you would have known that as soon as 
you saw him, — the same eyes, same face, the same 
kindly look; but the face was thinner and finer, and 
the brow was a student's brow, full of thought and spec- 
ulation ; and, looking from her hearty, vigorous form, 
you saw that his was slight to attenuation. 

" Sit down, sonny, sit down and rest. There ! how 



What Answer* ly 

tired you look ! " bustling round him, smoothing his 
thin face and rough hair. " Now don't do that ! let 
your old mother do it ! " It pleased her to call her- 
self old, though she was but just in her prime. " You 've 
done enough for one day, I 'm sure, waiting on other 
people, and walking with your poor lame foot till you 're 
allbut beat out. You be quiet now, and let somebody 
else wait on you." And, going down on her knees, she 
took up the lame foot, and began to unlace the cork- 
soled, high-cut shoe, and, drawing it out, you saw that it 
was shrunken and small, and that the leg was shorter 
than its fellow. 

" Poor little foot ! " rubbing it tenderly, smoothing 
the stocking over it, and chafing it to bring warmth and 
life to its surface. Her "baby," she called it, for it 
was no bigger than when he was a little fellow. " Poor, 
tired foot ! ain't it a dreadful long walk, sonny ? ' ! 

" Pretty long, mother ; but I 'd take twice that to do 
such work at the end." 

"Yes, indeed, it's good work, and Mr. Surrey's 
a good man, and a kind one, that 's sure ! I only wish 
some others had a little of his spirit. Such a shame to 
have you dragging all the way up here, when any dirty 
fellow that wants to can ride. I don't mind for myself 
so much, for I can walk about spry enough yet, and 
don't thank them for their old omnibuses nor cars ; but 
it 's too bad for you, so it is, — too bad ! " 



1 8 What Answer? 

"Never mind, mother! keep a brave heart. 'There's 
a good time coming soon, a good time coming ! ' as I 
heard Mr. Hutchinson sing the other night, — and it's 
true as gospel." 

" Maybe it is, sonny ! " dubiously, " but I don't see it, 
— not a sign of it, — no indeed, not one! It gets 
worse and worse all the time, and it takes a deal of 
faith to hold on ; but the good Lord knows best, and 
it '11 be right after a while, anyhow ! And now that 's 
straight ! " pulling a soft slipper on the lame foot, and 
putting its mate by his side ; then going off to pour 
out the tea, and dish up the stew, and add a touch or 
two to the appetizing supper-table. 

" It 's as good as a feast," — taking a bite out of her 
nice home-made bread, — " better 'n a feast, to think of 
you in that place ; and I can't scarcely realize it yet 
It seems too fine to be true." 

" That 's the way I 've felt all the month, mother ! It 
has been just like a dream to me, and I keep thinking 
surely I 'm asleep and will waken to find this is just an 
air-castle I 've been building, or ' a vision of the night,' 
as the good book says." 

"Well, it's a blessed vision, sure enough! and I 
hope to the good Lord it '11 last ; — but you won't if 
you make a vision of your supper in that way. You 
just eat, Abram! and have done your talking till you're 
through, if you can't do both at once. Talking 's good, 



What Answer? 19 

but eating 's better when you 're hungry ; and it 's my 
opinion you ought to be hungry, if you ain't." 

So the teacups were filled and emptied, and the 
spoons clattered, and the stew was eaten, and the 
baked potatoes devoured, and the bread-and-butter 
assaulted vigorously, and general havoc made with the 
good things and substantial things before and between 
them ; and then, this duty faithfully performed, the 
wreck speedily vanished away; and cups and forks, 
spoons and plates, knives and dishes, cleaned and 
cupboarded, Mrs. Franklin came, and, drawing away 
the book over w T hich he was poring, said, while she 
smoothed face and hair once more, " Come, Abram, 
what is it ? " 

" What 's what, mother ? " with a little laugh. 

" Something ails you, sonny. That 's plain enough. 
I know when anything 's gone wrong with ye, sure, 
and something 's gone wrong to-day." 

" O mother ! you worry about me too much, in- 
deed you do. If I'm a little tired or out of sorts, — 
which I have n 't any right to be, not here, — or 
quiet, or anything, you think somebody 's been hurt- 
ing me, or abusing me, or that everything 's gone 
wrong with me,. when I do well enough all the 
time." 

" Now, Abram, you can't deceive me, — not that 
way. My eyes is mother's eyes, and they see plain 



20 What Answer? 

enough, where you 're concerned, without spectacles. 
Who 's been putting on you to-day ? Somebody. You 
don't carry that down look in your face and your eyes 
for nothing, I found that out long ago, and you 've 
got it on to-night." 

" O mother ! " 

" Don't you ' O mother ' me ! I ain't going to be 
put off in that way, Abram, an' you need n't think it. 
Has Mr. Surrey been saying anything hard to you ? " 

" No, indeed, mother ; you need n't ask that." 

" Nor none of the foremen ? " 

" None." 

" Has Snipe been round ? " 

" Has n't been near the office since Mr. Surrey dis- 
missed him." 

" Met him anywhere ? " 

" Nein ! " laughing, " I have n't laid eyes on 
him." 

" Well, the men have been saying or doing some- 
thing then." 

" N-no ; why, what an inquisitor it is ! " m 

" ' N-no.' You don't say that full and plain, Abram. 
Something has been going wrong with the men. Now 
what is it ? Come, out with it." 

" Well, mother, if you will know, you will, I sup- 
pose ; and, as you never get tired of the story, I '11 
go over the whole tale! 



What Answer? 21 

" So long as I was Mr. Surrey's office-boy, to make 
his fires, and sweep and dust, and keep things in 
order, the men were all good enough to me after their 
fashion \ and if some of them growled because they 
thought he favored me, Mr. Given, or some one said, 
1 O, you know his mother was a servant of Mrs. Sur- 
rey for no end of years, and of course Mr. Surrey has 
a kind of interest in him ' ; and that put everything 
straight again. 

" Well ! you know how good Mr. Willie has been to 
me ever since we were little boys in the same house, — 
he in the parlor and I in the kitchen ; the books he 's 
given me, and the chances he 's made me, and the way 
he 's put me in of learning and knowing. And he 's 
been twice as kind to me ever since I refused that 
offer of his." 

" Yes, I know, but tell me about it again." 

" Well, Mr. Surrey sent me up to the house one day, 
just while Mr. Willie was at home from college, and 
he stopped me and had a talk with me, and asked 
me in his pleasant way, not as if I were a ' nigger,' but 
just as he 'd talk to one of his mates, ever so many 
questions about myself and my studies and my plans ; 
and I told him what I wanted, — how hard you 
worked, and how I hoped to fit myself to go into 
some little business of my own, not a barber-shop, or 
any such thing, but something that 'd support you 



22 What Answer? 

and keep you like a lady after while, and that would 
help me and my people at the same time. For, of 
course," I said, " every one of us that does anything 
more than the world expects us to do, or better, makes 
the world think so much the more and better of us 
all." 

" What did he say to that ? " 

" I wish you 'd seen him ! He pushed back that 
beautiful hair of his, and his eyes shone, and his 
mouth trembled, though I could see he tried hard to 
hold it still, and put up his hand to cover it ; and he 
said, in a solemn sort of way, ' Franklin, you 've opened 
a window for me, and I sha' n't forget what I see through 
it to-day.' And then he offered to set me up in some 
business at once, and urged hard when I declined." 

" Say it all over again, sonny ; what was it you told 
him ? " 

" I said that would do well enough for a white 
man ; that he could help, and the white man be helped, 
just as people were being and doing all the time, and 
no one would think a thought about it. But, sir," I 
said, " everybody says we can do nothing alone ; that 
we 're a poor, shiftless set ; and it will be just one of 
the master race helping a nigger to climb and to 
stand where he could n't climb or stand alone, and 
I 'd rather fight my battle alone." 

" Yes, yes ! well, go on, go on. I like to hear what 
fallowed." 



What Answer f 23 

"Well, there was just a word or two more, and 
then he put out his hand and shook mine, and said 
good by. It was the first time I ever shook hands 
with a white gentleman. Some white hands have 
shaken mine, but they always made me feel that they 
were white and that mine was black, and that it was a 
condescension. I felt that, when they did n't mean I 
should. But there was nothing between us. I did n't 
think of his skin, and, for once in my life, I quite for- 
got I was black, and did n't remember it again till I 
got out on the street and heard a dirty little ragamuffin 
cry, ' Hi ! hi ! don't that nagur think himself foine ? ' 
I suspect, in spite of my lameness, I had been holding 
up my head and walking like a man." 

In spite of his lameness he was holding up his 
head and walking like a man now ; up and down 
and across the little room, trembling, excited, the 
words rushing in an eager flow from his mouth. His 
mother sat quietly rocking herself and knitting. She 
knew in this mood there was nothing to be said to 
him ; and, indeed, what had she to say save that which 
would add fuel to the flame ? 

" Well ! " — a long sigh, — " after that Mr. Surrey 
doubled my wages, and was kinder to me than ever, 
and watched me, as I saw, quite closely ; and that was 
the way he found out about Mr. Snipe. 

" You see Mr. Snipe had been very careless about 



24 What Answer? 

keeping the books ; would come down late in the 
mornings, just before Mr. Surrey came in, and go 
away early in the afternoons, as soon as he had left. 
Of course the books got behindhand every month, 
and Mr. Snipe did n't want to stay and work over- 
hours to make them up. One day he found out, by 
something I said, that I understood book-keeping, 
and tried me, and then got me to take them home at 
night and go over them. I did n't know then how 
bad he was-doing, and that I had no business to shield 
him, and all went smooth enough till the day I was 
too sick to get down to the office, and two of the 
books were at home. Then Mr. Surrey discovered 
the whole thing. There was a great row, it seems ; 
and Mr. Surrey examined the books, and found, as he 
was pleased to say, that "I 'd kept them in first-rate 
style ; so he dismissed Mr. Snipe on the spot, with 
six months' pay, — for you know he never does any- 
thing by halves, — and put me in his place. 

" The men don't like it, I know, and have n't liked 
it, but of course they can't say anything to him, and 
they have n't said anything to me ; but I 've seen all 
along that they looked at me with no friendly eyes, and 
for the last day or two I 've heard a word here and 
there which makes me think there 's trouble brewing, 
— bad enough, I 'm afraid ; maybe to the losing of my 
place, though Mr. Surrey has said nothing about it to 
me." 



What Answer? 25 

Just here the little green door opened, and the fore- 
man whom we have before seen — James Given as the 
register had him entered, Jim Given as every one 
knew him — came in ; no longer with grimy face and 
flannel sleeves, but brave in all his Sunday finery, and 
as handsome a b'hoy, they said, at his engine-house, 
as any that ran with the machine ; having on his arm 
a young lady whom he apostrophized as Sallie, as hand- 
some and brave as he. 

" Evening," — a nod of the head accompanying. 
" Miss Howard's traps done ? " 

" I wish you would n't say ' traps,' Jim," corrected 
Sallie, sotto voce : " it 's not proper. It 's for a collar and 
pair of cuffs, Mrs. Franklin," she added aloud, putting 
down a little check. 

" Not proper ! goodness gracious me ! there spoke 
Snipe ! Come, Sallie, you 've pranced round with that 
stuck-up jackanapes till you 're getting spoiled entirely, 
so you are, and I scarcely know you. Not proper, 
— O my ! " 

" Spoiled, am I ? Thank you, sir, for the compliment ! 
And you don't know me at all, — don't you ? Very well, 
then I '11 say good night, and leave ; for it would n't be 
proper to take a young lady you don't know to the thea- 
tre, — now, would it ? Good by ! " — making for the 
door. 

" Now don't, Sallie, please." 
2 



26 What Answer? 

"Don't what?" 

" Don't talk that way." 

" Don't yourself, more like. You 're just as cross as 
cross can be, and disagreeable, and hateful, — all be- 
cause I happen to know there 's some other man in, the 
world besides yourself, and smile at him now and then. 
' Don't,' indeed ! " 

" Come, Sallie, you 're too hard on a fellow. It 's 
your own fault, you know well enough, if you will be 
so handsome. Now, if you were an ugly old girl, or I 
was certain of you, I should n't feel so bad, nor act so 
neither. But-when there 's a lot of hungry chaps round, 
all gaping to gobble you up, and even poor little Snipes 
trying to peck and bite at you, and you won't say ' yes ' 
nor ' no ' to me, how do you expect a man to keep 
cool ? Can't do it, nohow, and you need n't ask it. 
Human nature 's human nature, I suppose, and mine 
ain't a quiet nor a patient one, not by no manner of 
means. Come, Sallie, own up ; you would n't like me 
so well as I hope you do if it was, — now, would you ? " 

Mrs. Franklin smiled, though she had heard not a 
word of the lovers' quarrel, as she put a pin in the back 
of the ruffled collar which Sallie had come to reclaim. 
A quarrel it had evidently been, and as evidently the 
lady was mollified, for she said, " D^on't be absurd, Jim ! " 
and Jim laughed and responded, "All right, Sallie, 
you 're an angel ! But come, we must hurry, or the 



What Answer 1 27 

curtain '11 be up," — and away went the dashing and 
handsome couple. 

Abram, shutting in the shutters, and fastening the 
door, sat down to a quiet evening's reading, while his 
mother knitted and sewed, — an evening the likeness 
of a thousand others of which they never tired ; for 
this mother and son, to whom fate had dealt so hard a 
measure, upon whom the world had so persistently 
frowned, were more to each other than most mothers 
and sons whose lines had fallen in pleasanter places, 
— compensation, as Mr. Emerson says, being the law 
of existence the world over. 



CHAPTER III. 

" Every one has his day, from which he dates." 

Old Proverb. 

" "X/DU see, Surrey, the school is something extra, 

J- and the performances, and it will please Clara 
no end ; so I thought I 'd run over, and inveigled 
you into going along for fear it should be stupid, and I 
would need some recreation." 

" Which I am to afford ? " 

"Verily." 

" As clown or grindstone ? — to make laugh, or 
sharpen your wits upon ? " 

" Far be it from me to dictate. Whichever suits 
your character best. On the whole, I think the last 
would be the most appropriate ; the first I can swear 
would n't ! " 

" Ponrquoi ? " 

" O, a woman's reason, — because ! " 

" Because why ? Am I cross ? " 

" Not exactly." 

" Rough ? " 

" As usual, — like a May breeze." 

" Cynical ? " 



What Answer? 29 

" As Epicurus." 

" Irritable ? " 

" ' A countenance [and manner] more in sorrow than 
in anger.' Something 's wrong with you • who is she ? " 

" She ! " 

" Ay, — she. That was a wise Eastern king who 
put at the bottom of every trouble and mischief a 
woman." 

" Fine estimate." 

" Correct one. Evidently he had studied the genus 
thoroughly, and had a poor opinion of it." 

" No wonder." 

" Amazing ! you say ' no wonder ' ! Astounding 
words ! speak them again. " 

" No wonder, — seeing that he had a mother, and 
that she had such a son. He must needs have been a 
bad fellow or a fool to have originated so base a phi- 
losophy, and how then could he respect the source of 
such a stream as himself? " 

" Sir Launcelot, — squire of dames ! " 

" Not Sir Launcelot, but squire of dames, I hope." 

" There you go again ! Now I shall query once more, 
who is she ? " 

" No woman." 

" No ? " 

"No, though by your smiling you would seem to 
say so ! " 



30 What Answer f 

" Nay, I believe you, and am vastly relieved in the 
believing. Take advice from ten years of superior age, 
and fifty of experience, and have naught to do with 
them. Dost hear ? " 

" I do." 

" And will heed ? " 

" Which ? — the words or the acts of my counsellor ? 
who, of a surety, preaches wisely and does foolishly, or 
who does wisely and preaches foolishly ; for preaching 
and practice do not agree." 

" Nay, man, thou art unreasonable ; to perform 
either well is beyond the capacity of most humans, 
and I desire not to be blessed above my betters. 
Then let my rash deeds and my prudent words both 
be teachers unto thee. But if it be true that no woman 
is responsible for your grave, countenance this morn- 
ing, then am I wasting words, and will return to our 
muttons. What ails you ? " 

" I am belligerent." 

" I see, — that means quarrelsome." 

"And hopeless." 

" Bad, — very ! belligerent and hopeless ! When you 
go into a fight always expect to win ; the thought is 
half the victory." 

" Suppose you are an atom against the universe ? " 

" Don't fight, succumb. There 's a proverb, — a 
wise one, — Napoleon's, ' God is on the side of the 
strongest battalions.' " 



What Answer? 31 

" A lie, — exploded at Waterloo. There 's another 
proverb, 'One on the side of God is a majority.' 
How about that ? " 

" Transcendental humbug." 

" A truth demonstrated at Wittenberg." 

" Are you aching for the martyr's palm ? " 

" I am afraid not. On the whole, I think I'd rather 
enjoy life than quarrel with it. But " — with a sudden 
blaze — "I feel to-day like fighting the world." 

" Hey, presto ! what now, young 'un ? " 

" I don't wonder you stare ! " — a little laugh. 
" I'm talking like a fool, and, for aught I know, 
feeling like one, aching to fight, and knowing that I 
might as well quarrel with the winds, or stab that 
water as it flows by." 

" As with what ? " 

" The fellow I've just been getting a good look at." 

" What manner of fellow ? " 

" Ignorant, selfish, brutal, devilish." 

" Tremendous ! why don't you bind him over to 
keep the peace ? " 

" Because he is like the judge of old time, neither 
fears God nor respects his image, — when his image is 
carved in ebony, and not ivory." 

" What do you call this fellow ? " 

"Public Opinion." 

" This big fellow is abusing and devouring a poor 
little chap, eh ? and the chap 's black ? " 



32 What Answer f 

« True." 

" And sometimes the giant is a gentleman in purple 
and fine linen, otherwise broadcloth ; and sometimes 
in hodden gray, otherwise homespun or slop-shop ; and 
sometimes he cuts the poor little chap with a silver 
knife, which is rhetoric, and sometimes with a wooden 
spoon, which is raw-hide. Am I stating it all cor- 
rectly ? " 

" All correctly." 

" And you 've been watching this operation when 
you had better have been minding your own business, 
and getting excited when you had better have kept 
cool, and now want to rush into the fight, drums 
beating and colors flying, to the rescue of the small 
one. Don't deny it, — it 's all written out in your 
eyes." 

" I sha' n't deny it, except about the business and 
the keeping cool. It 's any gentleman's business to in- 
terfere between a bully and a weakling that he 's abus- 
ing ; and his blood must be water that does not boil 
while he ' watches the operation ' as you say, and goes 
in." 

" To get well pommelled for his pains, and do no 
good to any one, himself included. Let the weakling 
alone. A fellow that can't save himself is not worth 
saving. If he can't swim nor walk, let him drop under 
or go to the wall ; that 's my theory." 



What Answer? 33 

" Anglo-Saxon theory — arid practice." 

" Good theory, excellent practice, — in the main. 
What special phase of it has been disturbing your 
equanimity ? " 

" You know the Franklins ? " 

"Of course : Aunt Mina's son — what 's his name ? — 
is a sort of protege of yours, I believe : what of him ? " 

" He is cleanly ? " 

"A nice question. Doubtless." 

" Respectable ? " 

" What are you driving at ? " 

" Intelligent ? " 

" Most true." 

" Ambitious ? " 

" Or his looks belie him." 

" Faithful, trusty, active, helpful, in every way de- 
voted to my father's service and his work." 

"With Sancho, I believe it all because your worship 
says so." 

" Well, this man has just been discharged from my 
father's employ because seven hundred and forty-two 
other men gave notice to quit if he remained." 

" The reason ? " 

" His skin." 

" The reason is not ' so deep as a well, nor so wide 
as a church-door, but it is enough.' Of course they 
would n't work with him, and my uncle Surrey, begging 
2* c 



34 What Answer? 

your pardon, should not have attempted anything so 
Quixotic." 

" His skin covering so many excellent qualities, 
and these qualities gaining recognition, — that was the 
cause. They worked with him so long as he was a 
servant of servants : so soon as he demonstrated that 
he could strike out strongly and swim, they knocked 
him under ; and, proving that he could walk alone, 
they ran hastily to shove him to the wall." 

" What ! quoting my own words against me ? " 

" Anglo-Saxon says we are the masters : we monopo- 
lize the strength and courage, the beauty, intelligence, 
power. These creatures, — what are they? poor, 
worthless, lazy, ignorant, good for nothing but to be 
used as machines, to obey. When lo ! one of these 
dumb machines suddenly starts forth with a man's 
face ; this creature no longer obeys, but evinces a 
right to command ; and Anglo-Saxon speedily breaks 
him in pieces." 

" Come, Willie, I hope you 're not going to assert 
these people our equals, — that would be too much." 

" They have no intelligence, Anglo-Saxon declares, 
— then refuses them schools, while he takes of their 
money to help educate his own sons. They have no 
ambition, — then closes upon them every door of hon- 
orable advancement, and cries through the key-hole, 
Serve, or starve. They cannot stand alone, they have 



What Answer? 35 

no faculty for rising, — then, if one of them finds 
foothold, the ground is undermined beneath him. If 
a head is seen above the crowd, the ladder is jerked 
away, and he is trampled into the dust where he is 
fallen. If he stays in the position to which Anglo- 
Saxon assigns him, he is a worthless nigger ; if he 
protests against it, he is an insolent nigger; if he rises 
above it, he is a nigger not to be tolerated at all, — to 
be crushed and buried speedily." 

" Now, Willie, ' no more of this, an thou lovest me.' 
I came not out to-day to listen to an abolition ha- 
rangue, nor a moral homily, but to have a good time, 
to be civil and merry withal, if you will allow it. Of 
course you don't like Franklin's discharge, and of 
course you have done something to compensate him. 
I know — you have found him another place. No, — 
you could n't do that ? " 

"No, I could n't." 

"Well, you 've settled him somewhere, — confess." 

" He has some work for the present ; some copying 
for me, and translating, for this unfortunate is a scholar, 
you know." 

" Very good ; then let it rest. Granted the poor 
devils have a bad time of it, you 're not bound to sacri- 
fice yourself for them. If you go on at this pace, 
you'll bring up with the long-haired, bloomer reformers, 
and then — God help you. No, you need n't say 



36 What Answer f 

another word, — I sha' n't listen, — not one ; so. Here 
we are ! school yonder, — well situated ? " 

" Capitally." 

"Fine day." 

"Very." 

" Clara will be charmed to see you." 

" You flatter me. I hope so." 

" There, now you talk rationally. Don't relapse. 
We will go up and hear the pretty creatures read 
their little pieces, and sing their little songs, and see 
them take their nice blue-ribboned diplomas, and fall 
in love with their dear little faces, and flirt a bit this 
evening, and to-morrow I shall take Ma'm'selle Clara 
home to Mamma Russell, and you may go your ways." 

" The programme is satisfactory." 

" Good. Come on then." . 

All Commencement days, at college or young ladies' 
school, if not twin brothers and sisters, are at least 
first cousins, with a strong family likeness. Who that 
has passed through one, or witnessed one, needs any 
description thereof to furbish up its memories. This 
of Professor Hale's belonged to the great tribe, and its 
form and features were of the old established type. 
The young ladies were charming ; plenty of white 
gowns, plenty of flowers, plenty of smiles, blushes, tre- 
mors, hopes, and fears ; little songs, little pieces, little 
addresses, to be sung, to be played, to be read, just as 



What Answer? 27 

Tom Russell had foreshadowed, and proving to 
be — 

" Just the least of a bore ! " as he added after listen- 
ing awhile ; " don't you think so, Surrey ? " 

"Hush! don't talk." 

Tom stared ; then followed his cousin's eye, fixed 
immovably upon one little spot on the platform. " By 
Jove ! " he cried, " what a beauty ! As Father Dryden 
would say, ' this is the porcelain clay of humankind.' 
No wonder you look. Who is she, — do you know ? " 

" No." 

" No ! short, clear, and decisive. Don't devour her, 
Will. Remember the sermon I preached you an hour 
ago. Come, look at this," — thrusting a programme 
into his face, — " and stop staring. Why, boy, she has 
bewitched you, — or inspired you," - — surveying him 
sharply. 

And indeed it would seem so. Eyes, mouth, face, 
instinct with some subtle and thrilling emotion. As 
gay Tom Russell looked, he involuntarily stretched out 
his hand, as one would put it between another and 
some danger of which that other is unaware, and re- 
membered what he had once said in talking of him, — 
" If Will Surrey's time does come, I hope the girl will 
be all right in every way, for he '11 plunge headlong, 
and love like distraction itself, — no half-way ; it will 
be a life-and-death affair for him." " Come, I must 
break in on this." 



38 What Answer? 

" Surrey ! " 

"Yes." 

" There's a pretty girl." 

No answer. 

" There ! over yonder. Third seat, second row. 
See her ? Pretty ? " 

" Very pretty." 

"Miss — Miss — what's her name? O, Miss Perry 
played that last thing very well for a school-girl, eh?" 

"Very well." 

" Admirable room this, for hearing ; rare quality 
with chapels and halls ; architects in planning gener- 
ally tax ingenuity how to confuse sound. Now these 
girls don't make a great noise, yet you can distinguish 
every word, — can't you ? " 

No response. 

" I say, can't you ? " 

"Every word." 

Tom drew a long breath. 

" Professor Hale 's a sensible old fellow ; I like the 
way he conducts this school." (Mem. Tom didn't 
know a thing about it.) "Carries it on excellently." 
A pause. 

Silence. 

" Fine-looking, too. A man's physique has a deal 
to do with his success in the world. If he carries a 
letter of recommendation in his face, people take him 



What Answer? 39 

on trust to begin with ; and if he 's a big fellow, like 
the Professor yonder, he imposes on folks awfully ; 
they pop down on their knees to him, and clear the 
track for him, as if he had a right to it all. Bless me ! 
I never thought of that before, — it's the reason you 
and I have got on so swimmingly, — is it not, now ? 
Certainly. You think so ? Of course." 

" Of course," — sedately and gravely spoken. 

Tom groaned, for, with a face kind and bright, he 
was yet no beauty ; while if Surrey had one crowning 
gift in this day of fast youths and self-satisfied Young 
America, it was that of modesty with regard to him- 
self and any gifts and graces nature had blessed him 
withal. 

" Clara has a nice voice." 

" Very nice." 

" She is to sing, do you know ? " 

" I know." 

" Do you know when ? " ' 

No reply. 

" She sings the next piece. Are you ready to lis- 
ten ? " 

" Ready." 

" Good Lord ! " cried Tom, in despair, " the fellow 
has lost his wits. He has turned parrot ; he has- done 
nothing but repeat my words for me since he sat here. 
He 's an echo." 



40 What Answer •? 

" Echo of nothingness ? " queried the parrot, smil- 
ingly. 

"Ah, you've come to yourself, have you? Capi- 
tal ! now stay awake. There 's Clara to sing directly, 
and you are to cheer her, and look as if you enjoyed 
it, and throw her that bouquet when I tell you, and let 
her think it 's a fine thing she has been doing ; for 
this is a tremendous affair to her, poor child, of 
course." 

" How bright and happy she is ! You will laugh 
at me, Tom, and indeed I don't know what has come 
over me, but .somehow I feel quite sad, looking at 
those girls, and wondering what fate and time have 
in store for them." 

" Sunshine and bright hours." 

" The day cometh, and also the night," — broke in 
the clear voice that was reading a selection from the 
Scriptures. 

Tom started, and Willie took from his button-hole 
just such a little nosegay as that he had bought on 
Broadway a fortnight before, — a geranium leaf, a bit 
of mignonette, and a delicate tea-rosebud, and, seeing 
it was drooping, laid it carefully upon the programme 
on his knee. " I don't want that to fade," he thought 
as he put it down, while he looked across the platform 
at the same face which he had so eagerly pursued 
through a labyrinth of carriages, stages, and people, 
and lost at last. 



What Answer? 41 

"There! Clara is talking to. your beauty. I won- 
der if she is to sing, or do anything. If she does, it 
will be something dainty and fine, I '11 wager. Hel- 
loa ! there 's Clara up, — now for it." 

Clara's bright little voice suited her bright little face, 
— like her brother's, only a great deal prettier, — and 
the young men enjoyed both, aside from brotherly and 
cousinly feeling, cheered her " to the echo " as Willie 
said, threw their bouquets, — great, gorgeous things 
they had brought from the city to please her, — and 
wished there was more of it all when it was through. 

" What next ? " said Willie. 

" Heaven preserve us ! your favorite subject. Who 
would expect to tumble on such a theme here ? — 
' Slavery ; by Francesca Ercildoune.' Odd name, — 
and, by Jove ! it 's the beauty herself." 

They both leaned forward eagerly as she came from 
her seat ; slender, shapely, every fibre fine and exqui- 
site, no coarse graining from the dainty head to the 
dainty foot ; the face, clear olive, delicate and beauti- 
ful, — 

" The mouth with steady sweetness set, 

And eyes conveying unaware 
The distant hint of some regret 
That harbored there," — 

eyes deep, tender, and pathetic. 

"What's this ? " said Tom. "Queer. It gives me 
a heartache to look at her." 



42 What Answer? 

" A woman for whom to fight the world, or lose the 
world, and be compensated a million-fold if you died 
at her feet," thought Surrey, and said nothing. 

"What a strange subject for her to select! " broke 
in Tom. 

It was a strange one for the time and place, and she 
had been besought to drop it, and take another ; but it 
should be that or nothing, she asserted, — so she was 
left to her own device. 

Oddly treated, too. Tom thought it would be a 
pretty lady-like essay, and said so ; then sat astound- 
ed at what he saw and heard. Her face — this school- 
girl's face — grew pallid, her eyes mournful, her 
voice and manner sublime, as she summoned this 
monster to the bar of God's justice and the humanity 
of the world ; as she arraigned it ; as she brought wit- 
ness after witness to testify against it ; as she proved its 
horrible atrocities and monstrous barbarities ; as she 
went on to the close, and, lifting hand and face and 
voice together, thrilled out, " I look backward into 
the dim, distant past, but it is one night of oppression 
and despair ; I turn to the present, but I hear naught 
save the mother's broken-hearted shriek, the infant's 
wail, the groan wrung from the strong man in agony ; 
I look forward into the future, but the night grows 
darker, the shadows deeper and longer, the tempest 
wilder, and involuntarily I cry out, ' How long, O 
God, how long?'" 



What Answer? 43 

" Heavens ! what an actress she would make ! " said 
somebody before them. 

" That 's genius," said somebody behind them ; 
"but what a subject to waste it upon ! " 

" Very bad taste, I must say, to talk about such a 
thing here," said somebody beside them. " However, 
one can excuse a great deal to beauty like that." 

Surrey sat still, and felt as though he were on fire, 
filled with an insane desire to seize her in one arm 
like a knight of old, and hew his way through these 
beings, and out of this place, into some solitary spot 
where he could seat her and kneel at her feet, and die 
there if she refused to take him up ; filled with all 
the sweet, extravagant, delicious pain that thrills the 
heart, full of passion and purity, of a young man who 
begins to love the first, overwhelming, only love of a 
lifetime. 



CHAPTER IV. 



" 'Tis an old tale, and often told." 

Sir Walter Scott. 



THAT evening some people who were near them 
were talking about it, and that made Tom ask 
Clara if her friend was in the habit of doing startling 
things. 

"Should you think so to look at her now?" queried 
Clara, looking across the room to where Miss Ercil- 
doune stood. 

" Indeed I should n't," Tom replied ; and indeed 
no one would who saw her then. " She 's as sweet as 
a sugar-plum," he added, as he continued to look. 
" What does she mean by getting off such rampant dis- 
courses ? She never wrote them herself, — don't tell 
me; at least somebody else put her up to it, — that 
strong-minded-looking teacher over yonder, for in- 
stance. She looks capable of anything, and something 
worse, in the denouncing way ; poor little beauty was 
her cat's-paw this morning." 

" O Tom, how you talk ! She is nobody's cat's- 
paw. I can tell you she does her own thinking and 
acting too. If you'd just go and do something hateful, 



What Answer? 45 

or impose on somebody, — one of the waiters, for in- 
stance, — you'd see her blaze up, fast enough." 

" Ah ! philanthropic ? " 

Clara looked puzzled. " I don't know ; we have 
some girls here who are all the time talking about 
benevolence, and charity, and the like, and they have 
a little sewing-circle to make up things to be sold for 
the church mission, or something, — I don't know 
just what ; but Francesca won't go near it." 

" Democratic, then, maybe." 

" No, she is n't, not a bit. She 's a thorough little 
aristocrat : so exclusive she has nothing to say to the 
most of us. I wonder she ever took me for a friend, 
though I do love her dearly." 

Tom looked down at his bright little sister, and 
thought the wonder was not a very great one, but 
did n't say so ; reserving his gallantries for somebody 
else's sister. 

" You seem greatly taken with her, Tom." 

" I own the soft impeachment." 

" Well, you '11 have a fair chance, for she 's coming 
home with me. I wrote to mamma, and she says, 
bring her by all means, — and Mr. Ercildoune gives 
his consent; so it is all settled." 

" Mr. Ercildoune ! is there no Mrs. E. ?" 

" None, — her mother died long ago ; and her father 
has not been here, so I can't tell you anything about 



46 What Answer? 

him. There : do you see that elegant-looking lady- 
talking with Professor Hale ? that is her aunt, Mrs. 
Lancaster. She is English, and is here only on a 
visit. She wants to take Francesca home with her in 
the spring, but I hope she won't." 

« Why, what is it to you ? " 

" I am afraid she will stay, and then I shall never 
see her any more." 

" And why stay ? do you fancy England so very 
fascinating ? " 

" No, it is not that ; but Francesca don't like 
America; she 's forever saying something witty and 
sharp about our ' democratic institutions,' as she calls 
them ; and, if you had looked this morning, you 'd 
have seen that she did n't sing The Star-Spangled 
Banner with the rest of us. Her voice is splendid, 
and Professor Hale wanted her to lead, as she often 
does, but she would n't sing that, she said, — no, not 
for anything ; and though we all begged, she refused, 
— flat." 

u Shocking ! what total depravity ! I wonder is 
she converting Surrey to her heresies." 

No, she was n't ; not unless silence is more potent 
than words ; for after they had danced together Surrey 
brought her to one of the great windows facing to- 
wards the sea, and, leaning over her chair, there was 
stillness between them as their eyes went out into the 
night. 



What Answer? 47 

A wild night ! great clouds drifted across the moon, 
which shone out anon, with light intensified, defining 
the stripped trees and desolate landscape, and then 
the beach, and 

" Marked with spray 
The sunken reefs, and far away 
The unquiet, bright Atlantic plain," 

while through all sounded incessantly the mournful 
roar of buffeting wind and surging tide ; and whether 
it was the scene, or the solemn undertone of the sea, 
the dance music, which a little while before had been 
so gay, sounded like a wail. 

How could it be otherwise? Passion is akin to pain. 
Love never yet penetrated an intense nature and 
made the heart light ; sentiment has its smiles, its 
blushes, its brightness, its words of fancy and feeling, 
readily and at will ; but when the internal sub-soiling 
is broken up, the heart swells with a steady and tre- 
mendous pressure till the breast feels like bursting ; 
the lips are dumb, or open only to speak upon indif- 
ferent themes. Flowers may be played with, but one 
never yet cared to toy with flame. 

There are souls that are created for one another in 
the eternities, hearts that are predestined each to 
each, from the absolute necessities of their nature ; 
and when this man and this woman come face to face, 
these hearts throb and are one ; these souls recognize 



48 What Answer? 

" my master ! " " my mistress ! " at the first glance, 
without words uttered or vows pronounced. 

These two young lives, so fresh, so beautiful ; these 
beings, in many things such antipodes, so utterly dis- 
similar in person, so unlike, yet like ; their whole ac- 
quaintance a glance on a crowded street and these few 
hours of meeting, — looked into one another's eyes, 
and felt their whole nature set each to each, as the 
vast tide " of the bright, rocking ocean sets to shore 
at the full moon." 

These things are possible. Friendship is excellent, 
and friendship may be called love ; but it is not love. 
It may be more enduring and placidly satisfying in the 
end ; it may be better, and wiser, and more prudent, 
for acquaintance to beget esteem, and. esteem regard, 
and regard affection, and affection an interchange of 
peaceful vows : the result, a well-ordered life and home. 
All this is admirable, no doubt ; an owl is a bird when 
you can get no other ; but the love born of a moment, 
yet born of eternity, which comes but once in a life- 
time, and to not one in a thousand lives, unquestion- 
ing, unthinking, investigating nothing, proving nothing, 
sufficient unto itself, — ah, that is divine ; and this 
divine ecstasy filled these two souls. 

Unconsciously. They did not define nor compre- 
hend. They listened to the sea where they sat, and 
felt tears start to their eyes, yet knew not why. They 



What Answer •? 49 

were silent, and thought they talked ; or spoke, and 
said nothing. They danced ; and as he held her hand 
and uttered a few words, almost whispered, the words 
sounded to the listening ear like a part of the music to 
which they kept time. They saw a multitude of peo- 
ple, and exchanged the compliments of the evening, 
yet these people made no more impression upon their 
thoughts than gossamer would have made upon their 
hands. 

" Come, Francesca ! " said Clara Russell, breaking 
in upon this, "it is not fair for you to monopolize my 
cousin Will, who is the handsomest man in the room ; 
and it is n't fair for Will to keep you all to himself 
in this fashion. Here is Tom, ready to scratch out his 
eyes with vexation because you won't dance with him ; 
and here am I, dying to waltz with somebody who 
knows my step, — to say nothing of innumerable young 
ladies and gentlemen who have been casting indignant 
and beseeching glances this way : so, sir, face about, 
march ! " and away the gay girl went with her prize, 
leaving Francesca to the tender mercies of half a dozen 
young men who crowded eagerly round her, and from 
whom Tom carried her off with triumph and rejoicing. 

The evening was over at last, and they were going 
away. Tom had said good night. 

" You are to be in New York, at my uncle's, Clara 
tells me." 

3 r> 



50 What Answer? 

" It is true." 

" I may see you there ? " 

For answer she put out her hand. He took it as he 
would have taken a delicate flower, laid his other hand 
softly,, yet closely, over it, and, without any adieu 
spoken, went away. 

" Tom always declared Willie was a little queer, and 
I 'm sure I begin to think so," said Clara, as she kissed 
her friend and departed to her room. 



CHAPTER V. 

" A breathing sigh, a sigh for answer, 
A little talking of outward things." 

Jean Ingelow. 

AH, the weeks that followed ! People ate and 
drank and slept, lived and loved and hated, 
were born and died, — the same world that it had 
been a little while before, yet not the same to them, — 
never to seem quite the same again. A little cloud 
had fallen between them and it, and changed to their 
eyes all its proportions and hues. 

They were incessantly together, riding, or driving, 
or walking, looking at pictures, dancing at parties, 
listening to opera or play. 

" It seems to me Will is going it at a pretty tremen- 
dous pace somewhere," said Mr. Surrey to his wife, 
one morning, after this had endured for a space. " It 
would be well to look into it, and to know something 
of this girl." 

"You are right," she replied. "Yet I have such 
absolute faith in Willie's fine taste and sense that I 
feel no anxiety." 

" Nor I ; yet I shall investigate a bit to-night at 
Augusta's." 



52 What Answer? 

" Clara tells me that when Miss Ercildoune under- 
stood it was to be a great party, she insisted on ending 
her visit, or, at least, staying for a while with her aunt, 
but they would not hear of it." 

" Mrs. Lancaster goes back to England soon ? " 

"Very soon." 

"Does. any one know aught of Miss Ercildoune's 
family save that Mrs. Lancaster is her aunt ?" 

"If 'any one' means me, I understand her father 
to be a gentleman of elegant leisure, — his home near 
Philadelphia-; a widower, with one other child, — a 
son, I believe ; that his wife was English, married 
abroad ; that Mrs. Lancaster comes here with the best 
of letters, and, for herself, is most evidently a lady." 

" Good. Now I shall take a survey of the young 
lady herself." 

When night came, and with it a crowd to Mrs. 
Russell's rooms, the opportunity offered for the survey, 
and it was made scrutinizingly. Surrey was an only 
son, a well-beloved one, and what concerned him was 
investigated with utmost care. 

Scrutinizingly and satisfactorily. They were dan- 
cing, his sunny head bent till it almost touched the 
silky blackness of her hair. " Saxon and Norman," 
said somebody near who was watching them ; " what a 
delicious contrast ! " 

"They make an exquisite picture," thought the 



What Answer? 53 

mother, as she looked with delight and dread : delight 
at the beauty ; dread that fills the soul of any mother 
when she feels that she no longer holds her boy, — 
that his life has another keeper, — and queries, " What 
of the keeper ? " 

" Well ? " she said, looking up at her husband. 

" Well," he answered, with a tone that meant, 
well. " She 's thorough-bred. Democratic or not, I 
will always insist, blood tells. Look at her : no one 
needs to ask who she is. I 'd take her on trust with- 
out a word." 

" So, then, you are not her critic, but her admirer." 

" Ah, my dear, criticism is lost in admiration, and I 
am glad to find it so." 

" And I. Willie saw with our eyes, as a boy ; it is 
fortunate that we can see with his eyes, as a man." 

So, without any words spoken, after that night, both 
Mr. and Mrs. Surrey took this young girl into their 
hearts as they hoped soon to take her into their lives, 
and called her "daughter" in their thought, as a pleas- 
ant preparation for the uttered word by and by. 

Thus the weeks fled. No word had passed be- 
tween these two to which the world might not have 
listened. Whatever language their hearts and their 
eyes spoke had not been interpreted by their lips. 
He had not yet touched her hand save as it met his, 
gloved or formal, or as it rested on his arm ; and yet, 



54 What Answer? 

as one walking through the dusk and stillness of a sum- 
mer night feels a flower or falling leaf brush his cheek, 
and starts, shivering as from the touch of a disem- 
bodied soul, so this slight outward touch thrilled his 
inmost being ; this hand, meeting his for an instant, 
shook his soul. 

Indefinite and undefined, — there was no thought 
beyond the moment ; no wish to take this young girl 
into his arms and to call her "wife" had shaped itself 
in his brain. It was enough for both that they were 
in one another's presence, that they breathed the same 
air, that they could see each other as they raised their 
eyes, and exchange a word, a look, a smile. What- 
ever storm of emotion the future might hold for them 
was not manifest in this sunny and delightful present. 

Upon one subject alone did they disagree with feel- 
ing, — in other matters their very dissimilarity proving 
an added charm. This was a curious question to 
come between lovers. All his life Surrey had been 
a devotee of his country and its flag. While he was 
a boy Kossuth had come to these shores, and he 
yet remembered how he had cheered himself hoarse 
with pride and delight, as the eloquent voice and 
impassioned lips of the great Magyar sounded the 
praise of America, as the " refuge of the oppressed and 
the hope of the world." He yet remembered how 
when the hand, every gesture of which was instinct 



What Answer? 55 

with power, was lifted to the flag, — the flag, stainless, 
spotless, without blemish or flaw ; the flag which was 
" fair as the sun, clear as the moon," and to the op- 
pressors of the earth " terrible as an army with ban- 
ners," — he yet remembered how, as this emblem of 
liberty was thus apostrophized and saluted,, the tears 
had rushed to his boyish eyes, and his voice had said 
for his heart, " Thank God, I am an American ! " 

One day he made some such remark to her. She 
answered, "I, too, am an American, but I do not 
thank God for it." 

At another time he said, as some emigrants passed 
them in the street, "What a sense of pride it gives 
one in one's country, to see her so stretch out her 
arms to help and embrace the outcast and suffering of 
the whole world ! " 

She smiled — bitterly, he thought ; and replied, 
" O just and magnanimous country, to feed and 
clothe the stranger from without, while she outrages 
and destroys her children within ! " 

" You do not love America," he said. 

" I do not love America," she responded. 

" And yet it is a wonderful country." 

" Ay," briefly, almost satirically, " a wonderful 
country, indeed ! " 

" Still you stay here, live here." 

" Yes, it is my country. Whatever I think of it, I 



$6 What Answer? 

will not be driven away from it ; it is my right to re- 
main." 

" Her right to remain ? " he thought ; " what does 
she mean by that ? she speaks as though conscience 
were involved in the thing. No matter ; let us talk of 
something pleasanter." 

One day she gave him a clew. They were looking 
at the picture of a great statesman, — a man as famous 
for the grandeur of face and form as for the power 
and splendor of his intellect. 

" Unequalled ! unapproachable ! " exclaimed Surrey, 
at last. 

" I have seen its equal," she answered, very quietly, 
yet with a shiver of excitement in the tones. 

"When? where? how? I will take a journey to 
look at him. Who is he ? where did he grow ? " 

For response she put her hand into the pocket of 
her gown, and took out a velvet case. What could 
there be in that little blue thing to cause such emo- 
tion ? As Surrey saw it in her hand, he grew hot, then 
cold, then fiery hot again. In an instant by this chill, 
this heat, this pain, his heart was laid bare to his own 
inspection. In an instant he knew that his arms would 
be empty did they hold a universe in which Francesca 
Ercildoune had no part, and that with her head on his 
heart the world might lapse from him unheeded ; and, 
with this knowledge, she held tenderly and caressingly, 
as he saw, another man's picture in her hand. 



What Answer? 57 

His own so shook that he could scarcely take the 
case from her, to open it; but, opened, his eyes de- 
voured what was under them. 

A half-length, — the face and physique superb. Of 
what color were the hair and eyes the neutral tints of 
the picture gave no hint ; the brow princely, breaking 
the perfect oval of the face ; eyes piercing and full ; 
the features rounded, yet clearly cut ; the mouth with 
a curious combination of sadness and disdain. The 
face was not young, yet it was so instinct with magnifi- 
cent vitality that even the picture impressed one more 
powerfully than most living men, and one involuntarily 
exclaimed on beholding it, " This man can never grow 
old, and death must here forego its claim ! " 

Looking up from it with no admiration to express 
for the face, he saw Francesca's smiling on it with 
a sort of adoration, as she, reclaiming her property, 
said, — 

" My father's old friends have a great deal of enjoy- 
ment, and amusement too, from his beauty. One of 
them was the other day telling me of the excessive ad- 
miration people had always shown, and laughingly 
insisted that when papa wa^ a young man, and ap- 
peared in public, in London or Paris, it was between 
two police officers to keep off the admiring crowd \ 
and," laughing a gay little laugh herself, " of course I 
believed him ! why should n't I ? " 
3* 



58 What Answer? 

He was looking at the picture again. " What an 
air of command he has ! " 

" Yes. I remember hearing that when Daniel Web- 
ster was in London, and walked unattended through 
the streets, the coal-heavers and workmen took off 
their hats and stood bareheaded till he had gone by, 
thinking it was royalty that passed. I think they 
would do the same for papa." 

" If he looks like a king, I know somebody who 
looks like a princess," thought the happy young fellow, 
gazing down upon the proud, dainty figure by his side ; 
but he smiled as he said, " What a little aristocrat you 
are, Miss Ercildoune ! what a pity you were born a 
Yankee ! " 

" I am not a Yankee, Mr. "Surrey," replied the little 
aristocrat, " if to be a Yankee is to be a native of 
America. I was born on the sea." 

" And your mother, I know, was English." 

"Yes, she was English." 

" Is it rude to ask if your father was the same ? " 

"No !" she answered emphatically, "my papa is a 
Virginian, — a Virginia gentleman," — the last word 
spoken with an untransferable accent, — " there are 
few enough of them." 

" So, so ! " thought Willie, " here my riddle is read. 
Southern — Virginia — gentleman. No wonder she 
has no love to spend on country or flag ; no wonder 



What Answer? 59 

we could n't agree. And yet it can't be that, — what 
were the first words I ever heard from her mouth ? " 
and, remembering that terrible denunciation of the 
" peculiar institution " of Virginia and of the South, 
he found himself puzzled the more. 

Just then there came into the picture-gallery, where 
they were wasting a pleasant morning, a young man to 
whom Surrey gave the slightest of recognitions, — well- 
dressed, booted, and gloved, yet lacking the nameless 
something which marks the gentleman. His glance, 
as it rested on Surrey, held no love, and, indeed, was 
rather malignant. 

"That fellow," said Surrey, indicating him, "has a 
queer story connected with him. He was discharged 
from my father's employ to give place to a man who 
could do his work better ; and the strange part of 
it" — he watched her with an amused smile to see 
what effect the announcement would have upon her 
Virginia ladyship — " is that number two is a black 
man." 

A sudden heat flushed her cheeks : " Do you tell 
me your father made room for a black man in his em- 
ploy, and at the expense of a white one ? " 

" It is even so." 

" Is he there now ? " 

Surrey's beautiful Saxon face crimsoned. " No : he 
is not," he said reluctantly. 



60 What Answer? 

" Ah ! did he, this black man, — did he not do his 
work well ? " 

"Admirably." 

" Is it allowable, then, to ask why he was dis- 
carded ? " 

" It is allowable, surely. He was dismissed because 
the choice lay between him and seven hundred men." 

" And you " — her face was very pale now, the flush 
all gone out of it — " you have nothing to do with 
your father's works, but you are his son, — did you do 
naught ? protest, for instance ? " 

"I protested — and yielded. The contest would 
have been not merely with seven hundred men, but 
with every machinist in the city. Justice versus preju- 
dice, and prejudice had it ; 'as, indeed, I suppose it 
will for a good many generations to come : invincible 
it appears to be in the American mind." 

" Invincible ! is it so ? " She paused over the words, 
scrutinizing him meanwhile with an unconscious inten- 
sity. " And this black man, — what of him ? He was 
flung out to starve and die ; a proper fate, surely, for 
his presumption. Poor fool ! how did he dare to think 
he could compete with his masters ! You know noth- 
ing of him ? " 

Surely he must be mistaken. What could this black 
man, or this matter, be to her ? yet as he listened her 
voice sounded to his ear like that of one in mortal 



What Answer? 6 1 

pain. What held him silent ? Why did he not tell her, 
why did he not in some way make her comprehend, 
that he, delicate exclusive, and patrician, as the peo- 
ple of his set thought him, had gone to this man, had 
lifted him from his sorrow and despondency to courage 
and hope once more ; had found him work \ would see 
that the place he strove to fill in the world should be 
filled, could any help of his secure that end. Why did 
the modesty which was a part of him, and the high- 
bred reserve which shrank from letting his own mother 
know of the good deeds his life wrought, hold him 
silent now ? 

In that silence something fell between them. "What 
was it? But a moment, yet in that little space it 
seemed to him as though continents divided them, and 
seas rolled between. " Francesca ! " he cried, under 
his breath, — he had never before called her by her 
Christian name, — " Francesca ! " and stretched out his 
hand towards her, as a drowning man stretches forth 
his hand to life. 

" This room is stifling ! " she said for answer ; and 
her voice, dulled and unnatural, seemed to his strange- 
ly confused senses as though it came from a far dis- 
tance, — "I am suffering : shall we go out to the 
air?" 



CHAPTER VI. 

" But more than loss about me clings." 

Jean Ingelow. 

" "XT O ! no, I am mad to think it ! I must have 
•L * been dreaming ! what could there have been 
in that talk to have such an effect as I have conjured 
up ? She pitied Franklin ! yes, she pities every one 
whom she thinks suffering or wronged. Dear little 
tender heart ! of course it was the room, — did n't she 
say she was ill ? it must have been awful ; the heat 
and the closeness got into my head, — that 's it. Bad 
air is as bad as whiskey on a man's brain. What a 
fool I made of myself! not even answering her ques- 
tions. What did she think of me ? Well." 

Surrey in despair pushed away the book over which 
he had been bending all the afternoon, seeing for every 
word Francesca, and on every page an image of her 
face. "I '11 smoke myself into some sort of decent 
quiet, before I go up town, at least " ; and taking his 
huge meerschaum, settling himself sedately, began his 
quieting operation with appalling energy. The soft 
rings, gray and delicate, taking curious and airy shapes, 
floated out and filled the room ; but they were not 



What Answer? 63 

soothing shapes, nor ministering spirits of comfort. 
They seemed filmy garments, and from their midst faces 
beautiful, yet faint and dim, looked at him, all of them 
like unto her face ; but when he dropped his pipe and 
bent forward, the wreaths of smoke fell into lines that 
made the faces appear sad and bathed in tears, and 
the images faded from his sight. 

As the last one, with its visionary arms outstretched 
towards him, receded from him, and disappeared, he 
thought, "That is Francesca's spirit, bidding me an 
eternal adieu " — and, with the foolish thought, in spite 
of its foolishness, he shivered and stretched out his 
arms in return. 

" Of a verity," he then cried, " if nature failed to 
make me an idiot, I am doing my best to consummate 
that end, and become one of free choice. What folly 
possesses me ? I will dissipate it at once, — I will see 
her in bodily shape, — that will put an end to such 
fancies," — starting up, and beginning to pull on his 
gloves. 
. " No ! no, that will not do," — pulling them off again. 
" She will think I am an uneasy ghost that pursues her. 
I must wait till this evening, but ah, what an age 
till evening ! " 

Fortunately, all ages, even lovers' ages, have an end. 
The evening came ; he was at the Fifth Avenue, — his 
card sent up, — his feet impatiently travelling to and 



64 What Answer? 

fro upon the parlor carpet, — his heart beating with 
happiness and expectancy. A shadow darkened the 
door ; he flew to meet the substance, — not a sweet 
face and graceful form, but a servant, big and common- 
place, bringing him his own card and the announce- 
ment, "The ladies is both out, sir." 

" Impossible ! take it up again." 

He said " impossible " because Francesca had that 
morning told him she would be at home in the evening. 

" All right, sir ; but it 's no use, for there 's nobody 
there, I know " ; and he vanished for a second at- 
tempt, unsuccessful as the first. Surrey went to the 
office, still determinedly incredulous. 

"Are Mrs. Lancaster and Miss Ercildoune not in?" 

" No, sir ; both out. Keys here," — showing them. 
" Left for one of the five-o'clock trains ; rooms not 
given up ; said they would be back in a few days." 

" From what depot did they leave ? " 

" Don't know, sir. They did n't go in the coach ; 
had a carriage, or I could tell you." 

" But they left a note, perhaps, — or some mes- 
sage ? " 

" Nothing at all, sir ; not a word, nor a scrap. Can 
I serve you in any way further ? " 

" Thanks ! not at all. Good evening." 

" Good evening, sir." 

That was all. What did it mean ? — to vanish with- 



What Answer? 65 

out a sign ! an engagement for the evening, and not a 
line left in explanation or excuse ! It was not like her. 
There must be something wrong, some mystery. He 
tormented himself with a thousand fancies and fears 
over what, he confessed, was probably a mere acci- 
dent ; wisely determined to do so no longer, — but 
did, spite of such excellent resolutions and intent. 

This took place on the evening of Saturday, the 
13th of April, 186 1. The events of the next few 
days doubtless augmented his anxiety and unhappi 
ness. Sunday followed, — a day filled not with a Sab- 
bath calm, but with the stillness felt in nature before 
some awful convulsion ; the silence preceding earth- 
quake, volcano, or blasting storm ; a quiet broken 
from Maine to the Pacific slope when the next day 
shone, and men roused themselves from the sleep of a 
night to the duty of a day, from the sleep of genera- 
tions, fast merging into death, at the trumpet-call to 
arms, — a cry which sounded through every State 
and every household in the land, which, more pow- 
erful than the old songs of Percy and Douglas, 
" brought children from their play, and old men from 
their chimney-corners,' ' to emulate humanity in its 
strength and prime, and contest with it the opportunity 
to fight and die in a deathless cause. 

A cry which said, " There are wrongs to be redressed 
already long enough endured, — wrongs against the 



66 What Answer? 

flag of the nation, against the integrity of the Union, 
against the life of the republic ; wrongs against the 
cause of order, of law, of good government, against 
right, and justice, and liberty, against humanity and 
the world ; not merely in the present, but in the great 
future, its countless ages and its generations yet un- 
born." 

To this cry there sounded one universal response, 
as men dropped their work at loom, or forge, or wheel, 
in counting-room, bank, and merchant's store, in pul- 
pit, office, or platform, and with one accord rushed to 
arms, to save these rights so frightfully and arrogantly 
assailed. 

One voice that went to swell this chorus was Sur- 
rey's ; one hand quick to grasp rifle and cartridge-box, 
one soul eager to fling its body into the breach at this 
majestic call, was his. He felt to the full all the 
divine frenzy and passion of those first days of the 
war, days unequalled in the history of nations and of 
the world. All the elegant dilettanteism, the delicious 
idleness, the luxurious ease, fell away, and were as 
though they had never been. All the airy dreams of 
a renewed chivalrous age, of courage, of heroism, 
of sublime daring and self-sacrifice, took substance 
and shape, and were for him no longer visions of the 
night, but realities of the day. 

Still, while flags waved, drums beat, and cannon 



What Answer? 67 

thundered ; while friends said, " Go ! " the world stood 
ready to cheer him on, and fame and honor and 
greater things than these beckoned him to come ; while 
he felt the whirl and excitement of it all, — his heart 
cried ceaselessly, "Only let me see her — once — if 
but for a moment, before I go ! " It was so little he 
asked of fate, yet too much to be granted. 

In vain he went every day, and many times a day, 
in the brief space left him, to her hotel. In vain he 
once more questioned clerk and servants ; in vain 
haunted the house of his aunt, with the dim hope that 
Clara might hear from her, or that in some undefined 
way he might learn of her whereabouts, and so accom- 
plish his desire. 

But the days passed, too slowly for the ardent 
young patriot, all too rapidly for the unhappy lover. 
Friday came. Early in the day multitudes of people 
began to collect in the street, growing in numbers 
and enthusiasm as the hours wore on, till, in the after- 
noon, the splendid thoroughfare of New York from 
Fourth Street down to the Cortlandt Ferry — a stretch 
of miles — was a solid mass of humanity ; thousands 
and tens of thousands, doubled, quadrupled, and mul- 
tiplied again. 

Through the morning this crowd in squads and com- 
panies traversed the streets, collected on the corners, 
congregating chiefly about the armory of their pet 



6$ What Answer? 

regiment, the Seventh, on Lafayette Square, — one 
great mass gazing unweariedly at its windows and 
walls, then moving on to be replaced by another of 
the like kind, which, having gone through the same 
performance, gave way in turn to yet others, eager to 
take its place. 

So the fever burned ; the excitement continued and 
augmented till, towards three o'clock in the afternoon, 
the mighty throng stood still, and waited. It was no 
ordinary multitude ; the wealth, refinement, fashion, 
the greatness and goodness of a vast city were there, 
pressed close against its coarser and darker and 
homelier elements. Men and women stood alike in 
the crowd, dainty patrician and toil-stained laborer, 
all thrilled by a common emotion, all vivified — if in 
unequal degree — by the same sublime enthusiasm. 
Overhead, from every window and doorway and house- 
top, in every space and spot that could sustain one, on 
ropes, on staffs, in human hands, waved, and curled, 
and floated, flags that were in multitude like the swells 
of the sea ; silk, and bunting, and painted calico, from 
the great banner spreading its folds with an indescrib- 
able majesty, to the tiny toy shaken in a baby hand. 
Under all this glad and gay and splendid show, the 
faces seemed, perhaps by contrast, not sad, but grave; 
not sorrowful, but intense, and luminously solemn. 

Gradually the men of the Seventh marched out of 



What Answer? 69 

their armory. Hands had been wrung, adieus said, 
last fond embraces and farewells given. The regiment 
formed in the open square, the crowd about it so 
dense as to seem stifling, the windows of its building 
filled with the sweetest and finest and fairest of faces, 
— the mothers, wives, and sweethearts of these young 
splendid fellows just ready to march away. 

Surrey from his station gazed and gazed at the win- 
dow where stood his mother, so well beloved, his re- 
lations and friends, many of them near and dear to 
him, — some of them with clear, bright eyes that 
turned from the forms of brothers in the ranks to seek 
his, and linger upon it wistfully and tenderly ; yet 
looking at all these, even his mother, he looked be- 
yond, as though in the empty space a face would 
appear, eyes would meet his, arms be stretched to- 
wards him, lips whisper a fond adieu, as he, breaking 
from the ranks, would take her to his embrace, and 
speak, at the same time, his love and farewell. A 
fruitless longing. 

Four o'clock struck over the great city, and the line 
moved out of the square, through Fourth Street, to 
Broadway. Then began a march, which whoso wit- 
nessed, though but a little child, will remember to his 
dying day, the story of which he will repeat to his chil- 
dren, and his children's children, and, these dead, it 
will be read by eyes that shall shine centuries hence, as 



7<D What Answer f 

one of the most memorable scenes in the great strug- 
gle for freedom. 

Hands were stretched forth to touch the cloth of 
their uniforms, and. kiss&d when they were drawn 
back. Mothers held up their little children to gain 
inspiration for a lifetime. A roar of voices, continu- 
ous, unbroken, rent the skies ; while, through the deaf- 
ening cheers, men and women, with eyes blinded by 
tears, repeated, a million times, " God bless — God 
bless and keep them ! " And so, down the magnificent 
avenue, through the countless, shouting multitude, 
through the whirlwind of enthusiasm and adoration, 
under the glorious sweep of flags, the grand regiment 
moved from the beginning of its march to its close, 
— till it was swept away towards the capital, around 
which were soon to roll such bloody waves of death. 

Meanwhile, where was Miss Ercildoune? Surrey 
had thought her behavior strange the last morning 
they spent together. How much stranger, how un- 
accountable, indeed, would it have seemed to him, 
could he have seen her through the afternoon follow- 
ing! 

" What is wrong with you ? are you ill, Francesca ? " 
her aunt had inquired as she came in, pulling off her 
hat with the air of one stifling, and throwing herself 
into a chair. 

" 111 ! O no!" — with a quick laugh, — " what 



What Answer? yi 

could have made you think so ? I am quite well, 
thank you ; but I will go to my room for a little while 
and rest. I think I am tired." 

" Do, dear, for I want you to take a trip up the 
Hudson this afternoon. I have to see some English 
people who are living at a little village a score of 
miles out of town, and then I must go on to Albany 
before I take you home. It will be pleasant at Tan- 
gle wood over the Sabbath, — unless you have some en- 
gagements to keep you here ? " 

" O Aunt Alice, how glad I am ! I was going 
home this afternoon without you. I thought you 
would come when you were ready ; but this will do 
just as well, — anything to get out of town." 

" Anything to get out of town ? why, Francesca, is 
it so hateful to you ? ' Going home ! and this do almost 
as well ! ' — what does the child mean ? is she the least 
little bit mad ? I 'm afraid so. She evidently needs 
some fresh country air, and rest from excitement. 
Go, dear, and take your nap, and refresh yourself be- 
fore five o'clock ; that is the time we leave." 

As the door closed between them, she shook her 
head dubiously. " ' Going home this afternoon ! ' 
what does that signify ? Has she been quarrelling 
with that young lover of hers, or refusing him ? I 
should not care to ask any questions till she herself 
speaks ; but I fear me something is wrong." 



72 What Answer? 

She would not have feared, but been certain, could 
she have looked then and there into the next room 
She would have seen that the trouble was something 
deeper than she dreamed. Francesca was sitting, her 
hands supporting an aching head, her large eyes 
fixed mournfully and immovably upon something 
which she seemed to contemplate with a relentless 
earnestness, as though forcing herself to a distressing 
task. What was this something ? An image, a shadow 
in the air$ which she had not evoked from the empty 
atmosphere, but from the depths of her own nature 
and soul, — the life and fate of a young girl. Her- 
self! what cause, then, for mournful scrutiny? She, 
so young, so brilliant, so beautiful, upon whom fate 
had so kindly smiled, admired by many, tenderly and 
passionately loved by at least one heart, — surely it 
was a delightful picture to contemplate, — this life 
and its future ; a picture to bring smiles to the lips, 
rather than tears to the eyes. 

Though, in fact, there were none dimming hers, — - 
hot, dry eyes, full of fever and pain. What visions 
passed before them ? what shadows of the life she in- 
spected darkened them ? what sunshine now and then 
fell upon it, reflecting itself in them, as she leaned for- 
ward to scan these bright spots, holding them in her 
gaze after other and gloomier ones had taken their 
places, as one leans forth from window or doorway to 



What Answer? 73 

behold, long as possible, the vanishing form of some 
dear friend. 

Looking at these, she cried out, " Fool ! to have 
been so happy, and not to have known what the happi- 
ness meant, and that it was not for me, — never for me ! 
to have walked to the verge of an abyss, — to have 
plunged in, thinking the path led to heaven. Heaven 
for me ! ah, — I forgot, — I forgot. I let an uncon- 
scious bliss seize me, possess me, exclude memory 
and thought, — lived in it as though it would endure 
forever." 

She got up and moved restlessly to and fro across 
the room, but presently came back to the seat she had 
abandoned, and to the inspection which, while it tor- 
tured her, she yet evidently compelled herself to 
pursue. 

" Come," she then said, " let us ask ourself some 
questions, constitute ourself confessor and penitent, 
and see what the result will prove." 

" Did you think fate would be more merciful to you 
than to others ? " 

" No, I thought nothing about fate." 

" Did you suppose that he loved you sufficiently to 
destroy l an invincible barrier ' ? " 

" I did not think of his love. I remembered no 
barrier. I only knew I was in heaven, and cared for 
naught beyond." 
4 



74 What Answer? 

" Do you see the barrier now ? " 
"I do, — Ida" 

" Did he help you to behold it ; to discover, or to 
remember it ? did he, or did he not ? " 

" He did. Too true, — he did." 

" Does he love you ? " 

"I — how should I know ? his looks, his acts — I 
never thought — O Willie, Willie!" — her voice going 
out in a little gasping sob. 

" Come, — none of that. No sentiment, — face the 
facts. Think over all that was said, every word. 
Have you done so ? " 

" I have, — every word." 

"Well?" 

" Ah, stop torturing me. Do not ask me any more 
questions. I am going away, • — flying like a coward. 
I will not tempt further suffering. And yet — once 
more — only once ? could that do harm ? Ah, God, 
my God, be merciful ! " she cried, clasping her hands 
and lifting them above her bowed head. Then re- 
membering, in the midst of her anguish, some words 
she had been reading that morning, she repeated them 
with a bitter emphasis, — " What can wringing of the 
hands do, that which is ordained to alter ? " As she 
did so she tore asunder her clasped hands, to drop 
them clinched by her side, — the gesture of despair 
substituted for that of hope. 



What Answer? 75 

" It is not Heaven I am to besiege ! " she exclaimed. 
"Will I never learn that? Its justice cannot overcome 
the injustice of man. My God ! " she cried then, with 
a sudden, terrible energy, " our punishment should be 
light, our rest sure, our paradise safe, at the end, since 
we have to make now such awful atonement ; since 
men compel us to endure the pangs of purgatory, the 
tortures of hell, here upon earth." 

After that she sat for a long while silent, evidently 
revolving a thousand thoughts of every shape and hue, 
judging from the myriads of lights and shadows that 
flitted over her face. At last, rousing herself, she 
perceived that she had no more time to spend in this 
sorrowful employment, — that she must prepare to go 
away from him, as her heart said, forever. " Forever ! " 
it repeated. " This, then, is the close of it all, — the 
miserable end ! " With that thought she shut her 
slender hand, and struck it down hard, the blood al- 
most starting from the driven nails and bruised flesh, 
unheeding ; though a little space thereafter she smiled, 
beholding it, and muttered, " So — the drop of savage 
blood is telling at last ! " 

Presently she was gone. It was a pleasant spot to 
which her aunt took her, — one of the pretty little vil- 
lages scattered up and down the long sweep of the 
Hudson. Pleasant people they were too, — these 
English friends of Mrs. Lancaster, — who made her 



7 6 What Answer? 

welcome, but did not intrude upon the solitude which 
they saw she desired. 

Sabbath morning they all went to the little chapel, 
and left her, as she wished, alone. Being so alone, 
after hearing their adieus, she went up to her room 
and sat down to devote herself once again to sorrowful 
contemplation, — not because she would, but because 
she must. 

Poor girl ! the bright spring sunshine streamed over 
her where she sat ; — not a cloud in the sky, not a 
dimming of mist or vapor on all the hills, and the 
broad river-sweep which, placid and beautiful, rolled 
along ; the cattle far off on the brown fields rubbed 
their silky sides softly together, and gazed through the 
clear atmosphere with a lazy content, as though they 
saw the waving of green grass, and heard the rustle of 
wind in the thick boughs, so soon to bear their leafy 
burden. Stillness everywhere, — the blessed calm that 
even nature seems to feel on a sunny Sabbath morn. 
Stillness scarcely broken by the voices, mellowed and 
softened ere they reached her ear, chanting in the 
village church, to some sweet and solemn music, words 
spoken in infinite tenderness long ago, and which, 
through all the centuries, come with healing balm to 
many a sore and saddened heart : " Come unto me," 
the voices sang, — "come unto me, all ye that labor 
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 



What Answer? 77 

" Ah, rest," she murmured while she listened, — 
"rest" ; and with the repetition of the word the fever 
died out of her eyes, leaving them rilled with such a 
look, more pitiful than any tears, as would have 
made a kind heart ache even to look at them ; while 
her figure, alert and proud no longer, bent on the win- 
dow ledge in such lonely and weary fashion that a 
strong arm would have involuntarily stretched out to 
shield it from any hardness or blow that might threat- 
en, though the owner thereof were a stranger. 

There was something indescribably appealing and 
pathetic in her whole look and air. Outside the win- 
dow stood a slender little bird which had fluttered 
there, spent and worn, and did not try to flit away any 
further. Too early had it flown from its southern 
abode ; too early abandoned the warm airs, the flowers 
and leafage, of a more hospitable region, to find its way 
to a northern home ; too early ventured into a rigor- 
ous clime ; and now, shivering, faint, near to death, 
drooped its wings and hung its weary head, waiting for 
the end of its brief life to come. 

Francesca, looking up with woful eyes, beheld it, 
and, opening the window, softly took it in. " Poor 
birdie ! " she whispered, striving to warm it in her gentle 
hand and against her delicate cheek, — " poor little wan- 
derer ! — didst thou think to find thy mate, and build 
thy tiny nest, and be a happy mother through the long 



78 What Answer? 

bright summer-time ? Ah, my pet, what a sad close is 
this to all these pleasant dreams ! " 

The frail little creature could not eat even the bits 
of crumbs which she put into its mouth, nor taste a 
drop of water. All her soothing caresses failed to 
bring warmth and life to the tiny frame that presently 
stretched itself out, dead, — all its sweet songs sung, 
its brief, bright existence ended forever. " Ah, my 
little birdie, it is all over," whispered Francesca, as she 
laid it softly down, and unconsciously lifted her hand 
to her own head with a self-pitying gesture that was 
sorrowful to behold. 

"Like me," she did not say; yet a penetrating 
eye looking at them — the slight bird lying dead, its 
brilliant plumage already dimmed, the young girl 
gazing at it — would perceive that alike these two 
were fitted for the warmth and sunshine, would per- 
ceive that both had been thwarted and defrauded of 
their fair inheritance, would perceive that one lay 
spent and dead in its early spring. What of the 
other ? 

" Aunt Alice," said Francesca a few days after that, 
" can you go to New York this afternoon or to-morrow 
morning ? " 

" Certainly, dear. I purposed returning to-day or 
early in the morning to see the Seventh march away. 
Of course you would like to be there." 



What Answer? 79 

"Yes." She spoke slowly, and with seeming indif- 
ference. It was because she could scarcely control 
her voice to speak at all. " I should like to be there." 

Francesca knew, what her aunt did not, that 
Surrey was a member of the Seventh, and that he 
would march away with it to danger, — perhaps to 
death. 

So they were there, in a window overlooking the 
great avenue, — Mrs. Lancaster, foreigner though she 
was, thrilled to the heart's core by the magnificent pa- 
geant ; Francesca straining her eyes up the long street, 
through the vast sea of faces, to fasten them upon just 
one face that she knew would presently appear in the 
throng. 

" Ah, heavens ! " cried Mrs. Lancaster, " what a 
sight ! look at those young men ; they are the choice 
and fine of the city. See, see ! there is Hunter, and 
Winthrop, and Pursuivant, and Mortimer, and Shaw, 
and Russell, and, yes — no — it is, over there — your 
friend, Surrey, himself. Did you know, Francesca ? " 

Francesca did not reply. Mrs. Lancaster turned to 
see her lying white and cold in her chair. Endurance 
had failed at last. 



CHAPTER VII. 

"The plain, unvarnished tale of my whole course of love." 

Shakespeare. 

"TT 7HAT a handsome girl that is who always 
" * waits on us ! " Francesca had once said to 
Clara Russell, as they came out of Hyacinth's with 
some dainty laces in their hands. 

" Very," Clara had answered. 

The handsome girl was Sallie. 

At another time Francesca, admiring some particu- 
lar specimen of the pomps and vanities with which 
the store was crowded, was about carrying it away, but 
first experimented as to its fit. 

" O dear ! " she cried, in dismay, " it is too short, 
and " — rummaging through the box — " there is not 
another like it, and it is the only one I want." 

" How provoking ! " sympathized Clara. 

" I could very easily alter that," said Sallie, who was 
behind the counter; " I make these up for the shop, and 
I '11 be glad to fix this for you, if you like it so much." 

" Thanks. You are very kind. Can you send it up 
to-morrow ? " 

" This evening, if you wish it." 



What Answer? Si 

" Very good \ I shall be your debtor." 

" Well ! " exclaimed Clara, as they turned away, 
" this is the first time in all my shopping I ever found 
a girl ready to put herself out to serve one. They 
usually act as if they were conferring the most over- 
whelming favor by condescending to wait upon you at 
all." 

" Why, Clara, I 'm sure I always find them civil." 

" I know they seem devoted to you. I wonder why. 
Oh ! " — laughing and looking at her friend with hon- 
est admiration, — " it must be because you are so 
pretty." 

" Excellent, — how discerning you are ! " smiled 
Francesca, in return. 

If Clara had had a little more discernment, she 
would have discovered that what wrought this miracle 
w T as a friendly courtesy, that never failed to either 
equal or subordinate. 

Six weeks after the Seventh had marched out of 
New York. Francesca, sitting in her aunt's room, was 
roused from evidently painful thought by the entrance 
of a servant, who announced, " If you please, a young 
woman to see you." 

"Name?" 

" She gave none, miss." 

" Send her up." 

Sallie came in. " Bird of Paradise " Francesca had 
4* F 



82 What Answer? 

called her more than once, she was so dashing and 
handsome ; but the title would scarcely fit now, for she 
looked poor, and sad, and wofully dispirited. 

" Ah, Miss Sallie, is it you ? Good morning." 

" Good morning, Miss Ercildoune." She stood, and 
looked as though she had something important to say. 
Presently Francesca had drawn it from her, — a little 
story of her own sorrows and troubles. 

" The reason I have come to you, Miss Ercildoune, 
when you are so nearly a stranger, is because you 
have always been so kind and pleasant to me when I 
waited on you at the store, and I thought you 'd any- 
way listen to what I have to say." 

" Speak on, Sallie." 

" I 've been at Hyacinth's now, over four years, ever 
since I left school. It 's a good place, and they paid 
me well, but I had to keep two people out of it, my 
little brother Frank and myself; Frank and I are 
orphans. And I 'm very fond of dress ; I may as well 
confess that at once. So the consequence is, I 
have n't saved a cent against a rainy day. " Well," 
blushing scarlet, "I had a lover, — the best heart that 
ever beat, — but I liked to flirt, and plague him a 
little, and make him jealous ; and at last he got dread- 
fully so about a young gentleman, — a Mr. Snipe, who 
was very attentive to me, — and talked to me about it 
in a way I did n't like. That made me worse. I don't 



What Answer? 83 

know what possessed me ; but after that I went out 
with Mr. Snipe a great deal more, to the theatre and 
the like, and let him spend his money on me, and get 
things for me, as freely as he chose. I did n't mean 
any harm, indeed I did n't, — but I liked to go about 
and have a good time ; and then it made Jim show 
how much he cared for me, which, you see, was a 
great thing to me ; and so this went on for a while, till 
Jim gave me a real lecture, and I got angry and 
would n't listen to anything he had to say, and sent 
him away in a huff" — here she choked — " to fight ; 
to the war ; and O dear ! O dear ! " breaking down 
utterly, and hiding her face in her shawl, " he '11 be 
killed, — I know he will ; and oh ! what shall I do ? 
My heart will break, I am sure." 

Francesca came and stood by her side, put her 
hand gently on her shoulder, and stroked her beautiful 
hair. " Poor girl ! " she said, softly, " poor girl ! " 
and then, so low that even Sallie could not hear, 
" You suffer, too : do we all suffer, then ? " 

Presently Sallie looked up, and continued : " Up to 
that time, Mr. Snipe had n't said anything to me, ex- 
cept that he admired me very much, and that I was 
pretty, too pretty to work so hard, and that I ought to 
live like a lady, and a good deal more of that kind of 
talk that I was silly enough to listen to ; but when he 
found Jim was gone, first, he made fun of him for 



84 What Answer? 

1 being such a great fool as to go and be shot at for 
nothing/ and then he — O Miss Ercildoune, I can't 
tell you what he said ; it makes me choke just to 
think of it. How dared he ? what had I done that he 
should believe me such a thing as that ? I don't know 
what words I used when I did find them, and I don't 
care, but they must have stung. I can't tell you how 
he looked, but it was dreadful ; and he said, ' I '11 
bring down that proud spirit of yours yet, my lady. 
I 'm not through with you, — don't think it, — not by a 
good deal ' ; and then he made me a fine bow, and 
laughed, and went out of the room. 

" The next day Mr. Dodd — that 's one of our firm 
— gave me a week's notice to quit : t work was slack,' 
he said, ' and they did n't want so many girls.' But 
I 'm just as sure as sure can be that Mr. Snipe 's at the 
bottom of it, for I 've been at the store, as I told you, 
four years and more, and they always reckoned me 
one of their best hands, and Mr. Dodd and Mr. Snipe 
are great friends. Since then I 've done nothing but 
try to get work. I must have been into a thousand 
stores, but it's true work is slack ; there 's not a thing 
been doing since the war commenced, and I can't get 
any place. I 've been to Miss Russell and some of 
the ladies who used to come to the store, to see 
if they 'd give me some fine sewing ; but they had n't 
any for me, and I don't know what in the world to do, 



What Answer? 85 

for I understand nothing very well but to sew, and to 
stand in a store. I Ve spent all my money, what 
little I had, and — and — I 've even sold some of my 
clothes, and I can't go on this way much longer. I 
have n't a relative in the world ; nor a home, except in 
a boarding-house \ and the girls I know all treat me 
cool, as though I had done something bad, because 
I 've lost my place, I suppose, and am poor. 

" All along, at times, Mr. Snipe has been sending 
me things, — bouquets, and baskets of fruit, and some- 
times a note, and, though I won't speak to him when 
I meet him on the street, he always smiles and bows 
as if he were intimate ; and last night, when I was 
coming home, tired enough from my long search, he 
passed me and said, with such a look, ' You 've gone 
down a peg or two, have n't you, Sallie ? Come, I 
guess we '11 be friends again before long.' You think 
it 's queer I 'm telling you all this. I can't help it \ 
there 's something about you that draws it all out of 
me. I came to ask you for work, and here I 've been 
talking all this while about myself. You must excuse 
me ; I don't think I would have said so much, if you 
had n't looked so kind and so interested " ; and so she 
had, — kind as kind could be, and interested as though 
the girl who talked had been her own sister. 

" I am glad you came, Sallie, and glad that you 
told me all this, if it has been any relief to you. You 



86 What Answer? 

may be sure I will do what I can for you, but I am 
afraid that will not be a great deal, here ; for I am 
a stranger in New York, and know very few people. 
Perhaps — Would you go away from here ? " 

" Would I ? — O would n't I ? and be glad of the 
chance. I 'd give anything to go where I could n't 
get sight or sound of that horrid Snipe. Can't I go 
with you, Miss Ercildoune ? " 

" I have no counter behind which to station you," 
said Francesca, smiling. 

" No, I know, — of course ; but " — looking at the 
daintily arrayed figure — " you have plenty of elegant 
things to make, and I can do pretty much anything 
with my needle, if you 'd like to trust me with some 
work. And then — I 'm ashamed to ask so much of 
you, but a few words from you to your friends, I 'm 
sure, would send me all that I could do, and more." 

" You think so ? " Miss Ercildoune inquired, with a 
curious intonation to her voice, and the strangest ex- 
pression darkening her face. " Very well, it shall be 
tried." 

Sallie was nonplussed by the tone and look, but she 
comprehended the closing words fully and with delight. 
" You will take me with you," she cried. " O, how 
good, how kind you are ! how shall I ever be able to 
thank you ? " 

" Don't thank me at all," said Miss Ercildoune, " at 



What Answer? 87 

least not now. Wait till I have done something to 
deserve your gratitude." 

But Sallie was not to be silenced in any such 
fashion, and said her say with warmth and meaning ; 
then, after some further talk about time and plans, 
went away carrying a bit of work which Miss Ercil- 
doune had found, or made, for her, and for which she 
had paid in advance. 

"God bless her!" thought Sallie ; "how nice and 
how thoughtful she is ! Most ladies, if they 'd done 
anything for me, would have given me some money 
and made a beggar of me, and I should have felt as 
mean as dish-water. But now" — she patted her lit- 
tle bundle and walked down the street, elated and 
happy. 

Francesca watched her out of the door with eyes 
that presently filled with tears. " Poor girl ! " she 
whispered ; " poor Sallie ! her lover has gone to the 
wars with a shadow between them. Ah, that must 
not be ; I must try to bring them together again, if 
he loves her dearly and truly. He might die," — she 
shuddered at that, — " die, as other men die, in the 
heat and flame of battle. My God ! my God ! how 
shall I bear it ? Dead ! and without a word ! Gone, 
and he will never know how well I love him ! O Wil- 
lie, Willie ! my life, my love, my darling, come back, 
come back to me." 



88 What Answer? 

Vain cry ! — he cannot hear. Vain lifting of an 
agonized face, beautiful in its agony ! — he cannot see. 
Vain stretching forth of longing hands and empty 
arms ! — he is not there to take them to his embrace. 
Carry thy burden as others have carried it before 
thee, and learn what multitudes, in times past and in 
time present, have learned, — the lesson of endurance 
when happiness is denied, and of patience and silence 
when joy has been withheld. Go thou thy way, sor- 
rowful and suffering soul, alone ; and if thy own 
heart bleeds, strive thou to soothe its pangs, by medi- 
cining the wounds and healing the hurts of another. 

A few days thereafter, when Miss Ercildoune went 
over to Philadelphia, Sallie and Frank bore her com- 
pany. She had become as thoroughly interested in 
them as though she had known and cared for them 
for a long while ; and as she was one who was 
incapable of doing in an imperfect or partial way 
aught she attempted, and whose friendship never 
stopped short with pleasant sounding words, this in- 
terest had already bloomed beautifully, and was fast 
ripening into solid fruit. 

She had written in advance to desire that certain 
preparations should be made for her proteges, — prepara 
tions which had been faithfully attended to ; and thus, 
reaching a strange city, they felt themselves not stran- 
gers, since they had a home ready to receive them, and 
this excellent friend by their side. 



What Answer? 89 

The home consisted of two rooms, neat, cheerful, 
high up, — " the airier and healthier for that," as 
Sallie decided when she saw them. 

" I believe everything is in order," said the good- 
natured-looking old lady, the mistress of the establish- 
ment. " My lodgers are all gentlemen who take their 
meals out, and I shall be glad of some company. Any 
one whom Friend Comstock recommends will be all 
right, I know." 

As Mrs. Healey's style of designation indicated, 
Friend Comstock was a Quakeress, well known, greatly 
esteemed, an old friend of Miss Ercildoune, and of 
Miss Ercildoune's father. She it was to whom Fran- 
cesca had written, and who had found . this domicile 
for the wanderers, and who at the outset furnished 
Sallie with an abundance of fine and dainty sewing. 
Indeed, without giving the matter special thought, she 
was surprised to discover that, with one or two excep- 
tions, the people Miss Ercildoune sent her were of the 
peaceful and quiet sect. This bird of brilliant plu- 
mage seemed ill assorted with the sober-hued flock. 

She found in this same bird a helper in more ways 
than one. It was not alone that she gave her employ- 
ment and paid her well, nor that she sent her others 
able and willing to do the same. She found Frankie 
a good school, and saw him properly installed. She 
never came to them empty-handed ; through the long. 



90 What Answer? 

hot summer-time she brought them fruit and flowers 
from her home out of town ; and when she came not 
herself, if the carriage was in the city it stopped with 
these same delightful burdens. Sallie declared her an 
angel, and Frank, with his mouth stuffed full, stood 
ready to echo the assertion. 

So the heated term wore away, — before it ended, 
telling heavily on Sallie. Her anxiety about Jim, her 
close confinement and constant work, the fever every- 
where in the spiritual air through that first terrible 
summer of the war, bore her down. 

" You need rest," said Miss Ercildoune to her one 
day, looking at her with kindly solicitude, — " rest, and 
change, and fresh air, and freedom from care. I can't 
give you the last, but I can the first if you will accept 
them. You need some country living." 

" O Miss Ercildoune, will you let me do your 
work at your own home ? I know it would do me 
good just to be under the same roof with you, and then 
I should have all the things you speak of combined 
and another one added. If you only will ! " 

This was not the plan Francesca had proposed to 
herself. She had intended sending Sallie away to some 
pleasant country or seaside place, till she was refreshed 
and ready to come to her work once more. Sallie 
did not know what to make of the expression of the 
face that watched her, nor of the exclamation, " Why 



What Answer? 91 

not? let me try her." But she had not long to con- 
sider, for Miss Ercildoune added, " Be it so. I will 
send in for you to-morrow, and you shall stay till you 
are . better and stronger, or — till you please to come 
home," — the last words spoken in a bitter and sor- 
rowful tone. 

The next day Sallie found her way to the superb 
home of her employer. Superb it was, in every sense. 
Never before had she been in such a delightful re- 
gion, never before realized how absolutely perfect 
breeding sets at ease all who come within the charm 
of its magic sphere, — employed, acquaintance, or 
friend. 

There was a shadow, however, in this house, — a 
shadow, the premonition of which she had seen more 
than once on the face of its mistress ere she ever beheld 
her home ; a shadow to which, for a few days, she had no 
clew, but which was suddenly explained by the arrival 
of the master of this beautiful habitation ; a shadow 
from which most people would have fled as from the 
breath of a pestilence, or the shade of the tomb ; nay, 
one from which, but a few short months before, Sallie 
herself would have sped with feet from which she would 
have shaken the very dust of the threshold when she 
was beyond its doors, — but not now. Now, as she 
beheld it, she sat still to survey it, with surprise that 
deepened into indignation and compassion, that many 



92 What Answer?' 

a time filled her eyes with tears, and brought an added 
expression of respect to her voice when she spoke to 
these people who seemed to have all the good things 
that this world can offer, upon whom fortune had ex- 
pended her treasures, yet — - 

Whatever it was, Sallie came from that home with 
many an old senseless prejudice destroyed forever, with 
a new thought implanted in her soul, the blossoming 
of which was a noxious vapor in the nostrils of some 
who were compelled to inhale it, but as a sweet-smell- 
ing savor to more than one weary wayfarer, and 
to that God to whom the darkness and the light are 
alike, and who, we are told by His own word, is no 
respecter of persons. 

" Poor, dear Miss Ercildoune ! " half sobbed, half 
scolded Sallie, as she sat at her work, blooming and, 
fresh, the day after her return. " What a tangled 
thread it is, to be sure," jerking at her knotty needle- 
ful. " Well, I know what I '11 do, — I '11 treat her as 
if she was a queen born and crowned, just so long as 
I have anything to do with her, — so I will." And 
she did. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

" For hearts of truest mettle 
Absence doth join, and time doth settle." 

Anonymous. 

IT were a vain endeavor to attempt the telling of 
what filled the heart and soul of Surrey, as he 
marched away that day from New York, and through 
the days and weeks and months that followed. Fired 
by a sublime enthusiasm for his country ; thirsting to 
drink of any cup her hand might present, that thus he 
might display his absolute devotion to her cause ; burn- 
ing with indignation at the wrongs she had suffered ; 
thrilled with an adoring love for the idea she embod- 
ied ; eager to make manifest this love at whatever cost 
of pain and sorrow and suffering to himself, — through 
all this the man never once was steeped in forgetful- 
ness in the soldier ; the divine passion of patriotism 
never once dulled the ache, or satisfied the desire, or 
answered the prayer, or filled the longing heart, that 
through the day marches and the night watches cried, 
and would not be appeased, for his darling. 

" Surely," he thought as he went down Broadway, 
as he reflected, as he considered the matter a thousand 
times thereafter, — " surely I was a fool not to have 



94 What Answer? 

spoken to her then ; not to have seen her, have de- 
vised, have forced some way to reach her ; not to 
have met her face to face, and told her all the love 
with which she had filled my heart and possessed my 
soul. And then to have been such a coward when I 
did write to her, to have so said a say which was noth- 
ing " ; and he groaned impatiently as he thought of 
the scene in his room and the letter which was its final 
result. 

How he had written once, and again, and yet 
again, letters short and long, letters short and burn- 
ing, or lengthy and filled almost to the final line 
with delicate fancies and airy sentiment, ere he ven- 
tured to tell that of which all this was but the pre- 
lude ; how, at the conclusion of each attempt, he had 
watched these luminous effusions blaze and burn as 
he regularly committed them to the flames ; how he 
found it difficult to decide which he enjoyed the most, 
— writing them out, or seeing them burn ; how at last 
he had put upon paper some such words as these : — 

" After these delightful weeks and months of inter- 
course, I am to go away from you, then, without a 
single word of parting, or a solitary sentence of adieu. 
Need I tell you how this pains me ? I have in vain 
besieged the house that has held you ; in vain made a 
thousand inquiries, a thousand efforts to discover your 
retreat and to reach your side, that I might once more 



What Answer? 95 

see your face and take your hand ere I went from the 
sight and touch of both, perchance forever. This I find 
may not be. The hour strikes, and in a little space I 
shall march away from the city to which my heart clings 
with infinite fondness, since it is filled with associa- 
tions of you. I have again and again striven to write 
that which will be worthy the eyes that are to read, 
and striven in vain. 'T is a fine art to which I do not 
pretend. Then, in homely phrase, good by. Give 
me thy spiritual hand, and keep me, if thou wilt, in 
thy gentle remembrance. Adieu ! a kind adieu, my 
friend ; may the brighter stars smile on thee, and the 
better angels guard thy footsteps wherever thou mayst 
wander, keep thy heart and spirit bright, and let thy 
thoughts turn kindly back to me, I pray, very, very of- 
ten. And so, once more, farewell." 

Remembering all this, thinking what he would do 
and say were the doing and saying yet possible in an 
untried future, the time sped by. He waited and 
waited in vain. He looked, yet was gratified by no 
sight for which his eyes longed. He hoped, till hope 
gave place to despondency and almost despair : not a 
word came to him, not a line of answer or remem- 
brance. This long silence was all the more intolera- 
ble, since the time that intervened did but the more 
vividly stamp upon his memory the delights of the 
past, and color with softer and more exquisite tints 



g6 What Answer f 

the recollection of vanished hours, — hours spent in 
galloping gayly by her side in the early morning, or 
idly and deliciously lounged away in picture-galleries 
or concert-rooms, or in a conversation carried on in 
some curious and subtle shape between two hearts and 
spirits with the help of very few uttered words ; hours 
in which he had whirled her through many a fairy 
maze and turn of captivating dance-music, or in some 
less heated and crowded room, or cool conservatory, 
listened to the voice of the siren who walked by his 
side, "while the sweet wind did gently kiss the flowers 
and make no noise," and the strains of " flute, violin, 
bassoon," and the sounds. of the "dancers dancing in 
tune," coming to them on the still air of night, seemed 
like the sounds from another and a far-off world, — 
listened, listened, listened, while his silver-tongued 
enchantress builded castles in the air, or beguiled 
his thought, enthralled his heart, his soul and fancy, 
through many a golden hour. 

Thinking of all this, his heart well found expression 
for its feelings in the half-pleasing, half-sorrowful lines 
which almost unconsciously repeated themselves again 
and again in his brain : — 

" Still o'er those scenes my memory wakes, 
And fondly broods with miser care ; 
Time but the impression deeper makes, 
As streams their channels deeper wear." 



What Answer? 97 

Thinking of all this, he took comfort in spite of his 
trouble. " Perhaps," he said to himself, " he was mis- 
taken. Perhaps " — O happy thought ! — "it was but 
make-believe displeasure which had so tortured him. 
Perhaps — yes, he would believe it — she had never 
received his letter ; they had been careless, they had 
failed to give it her or to send it aright He would 
write her once again, in language which would relieve 
his heart, and which she must comprehend. He 
loved her ; perhaps, ah, perhaps she loved him a little 
in return : he would believe so till he was undeceived, 
and be infinitely happy in the belief. 

Is it not wondrous how even the tiniest grain of 
love will permeate the saddest and sorest recesses 
of the heart, and instantly cause it to pulsate with 
thoughts and emotions the sweetest and dearest in 
life ? O Love, thou sweet, thou young and rose 
lipped cherubim, how does thy smile illuminate the 
universe ! how does thy slightest touch electrify the 
soul ! how gently and tenderly dost thou lead us up to 
heaven ! 

With Surrey, to decide was to act. The second let- 
ter, full of sweetest yet intensest love, — his heart laid 
bare to her, — was written ; was sent, enclosed in one 
to his aunt. Tom was away in another section, fight- 
ing manfully for the dear old flag, or the precious mis- 
sive would have been intrusted to his care. He sent 
5 e 



98 What Answer? 

it thus that it might reach her sooner. Now that he 
had a fresh hope, he could not wait to write for her 
address, and forward it himself to her hands ; he 
must adopt the speediest method of putting it in her 
possession. 

In a little space came answer from Mrs. Russell, 
enclosing the letter he had sent : a kindly epistle it 
was. He was a sort of idol with this same aunt, so 
she had put many things on paper that were steeped 
in gentleness and affection ere she said at the end, " I 
re-enclose your letter. I have seen Miss Ercildoune. 
She restores it to you ; she implores you never to 
write her again, — to forget her. I add my entreaties 
to hers. She begs of me to beseech you not to try 
her by any further appeals, as she will but return them 
unopened." That was all. 

What could it mean ? He loved her so absolutely, 
he had such exalted faith in her kindness, her gentle- 
ness, her fairness and superiority, — in her, — that he 
could not believe she would so thrust back his love, 
purely and chivalrously offered, with something that 
seemed like ignominy, unless she had a sufficient rea- 
son — or one she deemed such — for treating so 
cruelly him and the offering he laid at her feet. 

But she had spoken. It was for him, then, when 
she bade silence, to keep it ; when she refused his gift, 
to refrain from thrusting it upon her attention and 



What Answer f 99 

heart. But ah, the silence and the refraining ! Ah, 
the time — the weary, sore, intolerable time — that 
followed ! Summer, and autumn, and winter, and the 
seasons repeated once again, he tramped across the 
soil of Virginia, already wet with rebel and patriot 
blood ; he felt the shame and agony of Bull Run ; he 
was in the night struggle at Ball's Bluff, where those 
wondrous Harvard boys found it " sweet to die for 
their country," and discovered, for them, "death to be 
but one step onward in life." He lay in camp, chaf- 
ing with impatience and indignation as the long 
months wore away, and the thousands of graves 
about Washington, filled by disease and inaction, 
made "all quiet along the Potomac." He went down 
to Yorktown ; was in the sweat and fury of the seven 
days' fight ; away in the far South, where fever and pes- 
tilence stood guard to seize those who were spared by 
the bullet and bayonet ; and on many a field well lost 
or won. Through it all, marching or fighting, sick, 
wounded thrice and again ; praised, admired, heroic, 
promoted, — from private soldier to general, — through 
two years and more of such fiery experience, no part 
of the tender love was burned away, tarnished, or 
dimmed. 

Sometimes, indeed, he even smiled at himself for 
the constant thought, and felt that he must certainly 
be demented on this one point at least, since it 



ioo What Answer? 

colored every impression of his life, and, in some 
shape, thrust itself upon him at the most unseemly 
and foreign times. 

One evening, when the mail for the division came 
in, looking over the pile of letters, his eye was caught 
by one addressed to James Given. The name was fa 
miliar, — that of his father's old foreman, whom he knew 
to be somewhere in the army ; doubtless the same man. 
Unquestionably, he thought, that was the reason he 
was so attracted to it ; but why he should take up the 
delicate little missive, scan it again and again, hold it 
in his hand with the same touch with which he would 
have pressed a rare flower, and lay it down as reluc- 
tantly as he would have yielded a known and visible 
treasure, — that was the mystery. He had never seen 
Francesca's writing, but he stood possessed, almost 
assured, of the belief that this letter was penned by 
her hand ; and at last parted with it slowly and un- 
willingly, as though it were the dear hand of which he 
mused ; then took himself to task for this boyish 
weakness and folly. Nevertheless, he went in pursuit 
of Jim, not to question him, — he was too thorough a 
gentleman for that, — but led on partly by his desire 
to see a familiar face, partly by this folly, as he called 
it with a sort of amused disdain. 

Folly, however, it was not, save in such measure as 
the subtle telegraphings between spirit and spirit can 



What Answer? 101 

be thus called. Unjustly so called they are, con- 
stantly ; it being the habit of most people to denounce 
as heresy or ridicule as madness things too high for 
their sight or too deep for their comprehension. As 
these people would say, " oddly enough," or " by an 
extraordinary coincidence," this very letter was from 
Miss Ercildoune, — a letter which she wrote as she pur- 
posed, and as she well knew how to write, in behalf of 
Sallie. It was ostensibly on quite another theme ; 
asking some information in regard to a comrade, but 
so cunningly devised and executed as to tell him in few 
words, and unsuspiciously, some news of Sallie, — news 
which she knew would delight his heart, and overthrow 
the little barrier which had stood between them, mak- 
ing both miserable, but which he would not, and she 
could not, clamber over or destroy. It did its work 
effectually, and made two hearts thoroughly happy, — 
this letter which had so strangely bewitched Surrey ; 
which, in his heart, spite of the ridicule of his reason, 
he was so sure was hers ; and which, indeed, was 
hers, though he knew not that till long afterward. 

" So," he thought, as he went through the camp, 
" Given is here, and near. I shall be glad to see a 
face from home, whatever kind of a face it may be, 
and Given's is a good one ; it will be a pleasant re- 
membrancer." 

" Whither away ? " called a voice behind him. 




102 What Answer? 

" To the 29th," he answered the questioner, one of 
his officers and friends, who, coming up, took his arm, 
" in pursuit of a man." 
'What 's his name ? " 

' Given. — christened James. What are you laugh- 
ing at ? do you know him ? " 

" No, I don't know him, but I 've heard some fun- 
ny stories about him j he 's a queer stick, I should 
think." " 

" Something in that way. — Helloa! Brooks, back 
again ? " to a fine, frank-looking young fellow, — " and 
were you successful ? " 

" Yes, to both your questions. In addition I '11 say, 
for your rejoicing, that I give in, cave, subside, have 
nothing more to say against your pet theory, — from 
this moment swear myself a rank abolitionist, or 
anything else you please, now and forever, — so help 
me all ye black gods and goddesses!" 

"Phew! what 's all this ?" cried Whittlesly, from 
the other side of his Colonel ; " what are you driving 
at ? I '11 defy anybody to make head or tail of that 
answer." 

"Surrey understands." 

" Not I ; your riddle 's too much for me." 
•" Did n't you go in pursuit of a dead man ? " queried 
Whittlesly. 

"Just that." 



What Answer? 103 

" Did the dead man convert you? " 

" No, Colonel, not precisely. And yet yes, too ; 
that is, I suppose I should n't have been converted if 
he had n't died, and I gone in search of him." 

" I believe it ; you 're such an obstinate case that 
you need one raised from the dead to have any effect 
on you." 

" Obstinate ! O, hear the pig-headed fellow talk ! 
You 're a beauty to discourse on that point, are n't 
you ! " 

Surrey laughed, and stopped at the call of one of 
his men, who hailed him as he went by. Evidently a 
favorite here as in New York, in camp as at home ; 
for in a moment he was surrounded by the men, who 
crowded about him, each with a question, or remark, 
to draw special attention to himself, and a word or 
smile from his commander. Whatever complaint they 
had to enter, or petition to make, or favor to beg, or 
wish to urge, whatever help they wanted or information 
they desired, was brought to him to solve or to grant, 
and — never being repulsed by their officer — they 
speedily knew and loved their friend. Thus it was 
that the two men standing at a little distance, watch- 
ing the proceeding, were greatly amused at the motley 
drafts made upon his attention in the shape of tents, 
shoes, coats, letters to be sent or received, books bor- 
rowed and lent, a man sick, or a chicken captured. 



104 What Answer? 

They brought their interests and cares to him, — these 
big, brown fellows, — as though they were children, and 
he a parent well beloved. 

" One might think him the father of the regiment," 
said Brooks, with a smile. 

" The mother, more like : it must be the woman 
element in him these fellows feel and love so." 

" Perhaps ; but it would have another effect on them, 
if, for instance, he did n't carry that sabre-slash on his 
hand. They 've seen him under steel and fire, and 
know where he 's led them." 

" What is this you were joking about with him, a 
while ago ? " 

" What ! about turning abolitionist ? " 

" Precisely." 

" O, you know he 's rampant on the slavery ques- 
tion. I believe it 's the only thing he ever loses his 
temper over, and he has lost it with me more than 
once. I 've always been a rank heretic with regard to 
Cuffee, and the result was, we disagreed." 

"Yes, I know. But what connection has that 
with your expedition ? " 

"Just what I want to know," added Surrey, coming 
up at the moment. 

" Ah ! you 're in time to hear the confession, are 
you ? " 

" ' An honest confession — ' You know what the 
wise man says." 



What Answer? 105 

" Come, don't flatter yourself we will think you so 
because you quote him. Be quiet, both of you, and 
let me go on to tell my tale." 

" Attention ! " 

"'Proceed ! " 

"Thus, then. You understand what my errand 
was?" 

" Not exactly ; Lieutenant Hunt was drowned 
somewhere, was n't he ? " 

" Yes : fell overboard from a tug ; the men on board 
tried to save him, and then to recover his body, and 
could n't do either. Some of his people came down 
here in pursuit of it, and I was detailed with a squad 
to help them in their search. 

"Well, the naval officers gave us every facility in 
their power ; the river was dragged twice over, and the 
woods along-shore ransacked, hoping it might have 
been washed in and, maybe, buried ; but there was n't 
sight or trace of it. While we were hunting round we 
stumbled on a couple of darkies, who told us, after a 
bit of questioning, that darky number three, some- 
where about, had found the body of a Federal officer 
on the river bank, and buried it. On that hint we 
acted, posted over to the fellow's shanty, and found, 
not him, but his wife, who was ready enough to tell us 
all she knew. She showed us some traps of the buried 
officer, among them a pair of spurs, which his brother 
5* 



106 What Answer? 

recognized directly. When she was quite sure that we 
were all correct, and that the thing had fallen into the 
right hands, she fished out of some safe corner his 
wallet, with fifty-seven dollars in it. I confess I stared, 
for they were slaves, both of them, and evidently poor 
as Job's turkey, and it has always been one of my 
theories that a nigger invariably steals when he gets 
a chance. However, I was n't going to give in at 
that." 

" Of course you were n't," said the Colonel. " Did 
you ever read about the man who was told that the 
facts did not sustain his theory, and of his sublime 
answer ? ' Very well,' said he, ' so much the worse for 
the facts ! ' " 

" Come, Colonel, you talk too much. How am I 
ever to get on with my narrative, if you keep interrupt- 
ing me in this style ? Be quiet." 

"Word of command. Quiet. Quiet it is. Con- 
tinue." 

" No, I said, of course they expect some reward, — 
that 's it." 

" What an ass you must be ! " broke in Whittlesly. 
" Had n't you sense enough to see they could keep the 
whole of it, and nobody the wiser ? and of course they 
could n't have supposed any one was coming after it, 
— could they ? " 

" How am I to know what they thought ? If you 



What Answer? 107 

doa't stop your comments, I '11 stop the story ; take 
your choice." 

"All right : go ahead." 

" While I was considering the case, in came the 
master of the mansion, — a thin, stooped, tired-looking 
little fellow, — i Sam,' he told us, was his name ; then 
proceeded to narrate how he had found the body, and 
knew the uniform, and was kind and tender with it be- 
cause of its dress, ' for you see, sah, we darkies is all 
Union folks ' ; how he had brought it up in the night, 
for fear of his Secesh master, and made a coffin for it, 
and buried it decently. After that he took us out to a 
little spot of fresh earth, covered with leaves and twigs, 
and, digging down, we came to a rough pine box made 
as well as the poor fellow knew how to put it together. 
Opening it, we found all that was left of poor Hunt, 
respectably clad in a coarse, clean white garment 
which Sam's wife had made as nicely as she could out 
of her one pair of sheets. c It wa' n't much,' said the 
good soul, with tears in her eyes, ' it wa' n't much we's 
could do for him, but I washed him, and dressed him, 
peart as I could, and Sam and me, we buried him. 
We wished, both on us, that we could have done heaps 
more for him, but we did all that we could,' — which, 
indeed, was plain enough to be seen. 

"Before we went away, Sam brought from a little 
hole, which he burrowed in the floor of his cabin, a 



108 What Answer? 

something, done up in dirty old rags ; and when we 
opened it, what under the heavens do you suppose we 
found ? You '11 never guess. Three hundred dollars 
in bank-bills, and some important papers, which he had 
taken and hid, — concealed them even from his wife, 
because, he said, the guerillas often came round, and 
they might frighten her into giving them up if she 
knew they were there. 

" I collapsed at that, and stood with open mouth, 
watching for the next proceeding. I knew there was 
to be some more of it, and there was. Hunt's brother 
offered back half the money ; offered 'it! why, he tried 
to force it on the fellow, and could n't. His master 
would n't let him buy himself and his wife, — I sus- 
pect, out of sheer cussedness, — and he had n't any 
other use for money, he said. Besides, he did n't want 
to take, and would n't take, anything that looked like 
pay for doing aught for a ' Linkum sojer,' alive or dead. 

" ' They 'se going to make us all free, sometime,' he 
said, ' that 's enough. Don't look like it, jest yet, I 
knows ; but I lives in faith ; it '11 come byumby.' 
When the fellow said that, I declare to you, Surrey, 
I felt like hiding my face. At last I began to compre- 
hend what your indignation meant against the order 
forbidding slaves coming into our lines, and command- 
ing their return when they succeed in entering. Just 
then we all seemed to me meaner than dirt." 



What Answer? 109 

" As we are ; and, as dirt, deserve to be trampled 
underfoot, beaten, defeated, till we 're ready to stand up 
and fight like men in this struggle." 

" Amen to that, Colonel," added Whittlesly. 

" Well, I 'm pretty nearly ready to say so myself," 
finished Brooks, half reluctantly. 



CHAPTER IX. 

"The best-laid schemes o' mice and men 
Gang aft agley." 

Burns. 

THEY .did n't find Jim in the camp of his regi- 
ment, so went up to head-quarters to institute 
inquiries. 

" Given ? " a little thought and investigation. " Oh ! 
Given is out on picket duty." 

" Whereabouts ? " 

The direction indicated. "Thanks! we'll find him." 
Having commenced the search, Surrey was determined 
to end it ere he turned back, and his two friends bore 
him company. As they came down the road, they 
saw in the distance a great stalwart fellow, red-shirted 
and conspicuous, evidently absorbed in some singular 
task, — what they did not perceive, till, coming to 
closer quarters, they discovered, perched by his side, a 
tin cup filled with soap-suds, a pipe in his mouth, and 
that by the help of the two he was regaling himself 
with the pastime of blowing bubbles. 

" I '11 wager that's Jim," said Surrey, before he saw 
his face. 

" It 's like him, certainly : from what I Ve heard of 



What Answer? hi 

him, I think he would die outright if he could n't 
amuse himself in some shape." 

"Why, the fellow must be a curiosity worth coming 
here to see." 

" Pretty nearly." 

Surrey walked on a little in advance, and tapped 
him on the shoulder. Down came the pipe, up went 
the hand in a respectful military salute, but before it 
was finished he saw who was before him. 

" Wow ! " he exclaimed, " if it ain't Mr. Willie Sur- 
rey. My! ain't I glad to see you? How do you do ? 
The sight of you is as good as a month's pay." 

" Come, Given, don't stun me with compliments," 
cried Surrey, laughing and putting out his hand to 
grasp the big, red paw that came to meet it, and 
shake it heartily. " If I 'd known you were over here, 
I 'd have found you before, though my regiment has n't 
been down here long." 

Jim at that looked sharply at the " eagles," and then 
over the alert, graceful person, finishing his inspection 
with an approving nod, and the emphatic declaration, 
" Well, if I know what's what, and I rayther reckon I 
do, you 're about the right rigger for an officer, and on 
the whole I 'd sooner pull off my cap to you than any 
other fellow I've seen round," — bringing his hand 
once more to the salute. 

" Why, Jim, you have turned courtier ; army life is 



112 What Answer? 

spoiling you," protested the inspected one ; protest- 
ing, — yet pleased, as any one might have been, at 
the evidently sincere admiration. 

"Nary time," Jim strenuously denied; and, these 
little courtesies being ended, they talked about enlist- 
ment, and home, and camp, and a score of things that 
interested officer and man alike. In the midst of the 
confab a dust was seen up the road, coming nearer, 
and presently out of it appeared a family carriage 
somewhat dilapidated and worse for wear, but still 
quite magnificent ; enthroned on the back seat a full- 
blown F. F. V, with rather more than the ordinary 
measure of superciliousness belonging to his race ; 
driven, of course, by his colored servant. Jim made 
for the middle of the road, and, holding his bayonet in 
such wise as to threaten at one charge horse, negro, 
and chivalry, roared out, " Tickets ! " 

At such an extraordinary and unceremonious de- 
mand the knight flushed angrily, frowned, made an 
expressive gesture with his lips and his nose which 
suggestively indicated that there was something offen- 
sive in the air between the wind and his gentility, 
ending the pantomime by finding a pass and handing 
it over to his " nigger," then — not deigning to speak 
— motioned him and it to the threatening figure. As 
this black man came forward, Brooks, looking at him 
a moment, cried excitedly, " By Jove ! it's Sam." 



What Answer f 113 

"No? Hunt's Sam?" 

"Yes, the very same; and I suppose that's his 
cantankerous old master." 

Surrey ran forward to Jim, for the three had fallen 
back when the carriage came near, and said a few 
sentences to him quickly and earnestly. 

"All right, Colonel ! just as you please," he replied. 
"You leave it to me ; I '11 fix him." Then, turning to 
Sam, who stood waiting, demanded, "Well, have you 
got it ? " 

"Yes, massa." 

" Fork over," — and looking at it a moment pro- 
nounced " All right ! Move on ! " elucidating the 
remark by a jerk at the coat-collar of the unsuspecting 
Sam, which sent him whirling up the road at a fine but 
uncomfortable rate of speed. 

" Now, sir, what do you want ? " addressing the as- 
tounded chevalier, who sat speechlessly observant of 
this unlooked-for proceeding. 

" Want ? " cried the irate Virginian, his anger loos- 
ening his tongue, " want ? I want to go on, of course ; 
that was my pass." 

" Was it now ? I want to know ! that 's singular ! 
Why did n't you offer it yourself then ? " 

" Because I thought my nigger a fitter person to 
parley with a Lincoln vandal," loftily responded his 
eminence. 

H 



114 What Answer? 

"That's kind of you, I 'm sure. Sorry I can't 
oblige you in return, — very; but you'll just have to 
turn tail and drive back again. That bit of paper 
says ' Pass the bearer,' and the bearer 's already 
passed. You can't get two men through this picket on 
one man's pass, not if one is a nigger and t'other a 
skunk ; so, sir, face about, march ! " 

This was an unprepared-for dilemma. Mr. V. 
looked at the face of the " Lincoln vandal," but saw 
there no sign of relenting ; then into the distance 
whither he was anxiously desirous to tend ; glanced 
reflectively at the bayonet in the centre and the nar- 
row space on either side the road ; and finally called 
to his black man to come back. 

Sam approached with reluctance, and fell back with 
alacrity when the glittering steel was brandished to- 
wards his own breast. 

"Where 's your pass, sirrah ? " demanded Jim, with 
asperity. 

" Here, massa, " said the chattel, presenting the 
same one which had already been examined, 

"Won't do," said Jim. "Can't come that game 
over this child. That passes you to Fairfax, — can't 
get any one from Fairfax on that ticket. Come," 
flourishing the shooting-stick once more, " move 
along " ; which Sam proceeded to do with extraordi- 
nary readiness. 



What Answer? 115 

" Now, sir," turning to the again speechless cheva- 
lier, " if you stay here any longer, I shall take you un- 
der arrest to head-quarters : consequently, you 'd bet- 
ter accept the advice of a disinterested friend, and 
make tracks, lively." 

By this time the scion of a latter-day chivalry 
seemed to comprehend the situation, seized his lines, 
wheeled about, and went off at a spanking trot over 
the " sacred soil," — Jim shouting after him, " I say, 
Mr. F. F. V., if you meet any 'Lincoln vandals,' just 
give them my respects, will you ? " to which as the 
knight gave no answer, we are left in doubt to this 
day whether Given's commission was ever executed. 

" There ! my mmd 's relieved on that point," an- 
nounced Jim, wiping his face with one hand and shak- 
ing the other after the retreating dust. " Mean old 
scoot ! I '11 teach him to insult one of our boys, — 
' Lincoln vandals ' indeed ! I 'd like to have whanged 
him ! " with a final shake and a final explosion, cool- 
ing off as rapidly as he had heated, and continuing 
the interrupted conversation with recovered temper 
and sang froid. 

He was delighted at meeting Surrey, and Surrey 
was equally glad to see once more his old favorite, 
for Jim and he had been great friends when he was a 
little boy and had watched the big boy at work in his 
father's foundry, — a favoritism which, spite of years 



n6 What Answer? 

and changes, and wide distinctions of social position, 
had never altered nor cooled, and which showed itself 
now in many a pleasant shape and fashion so long as 
they were near together. 

They aided and abetted one another in more ways 
than one. Jim at Surrey's request, and by a plan of 
his proposing, succeeded in getting Sam's wife away 
from her home, — not from any liking for the expedi- 
tion, or interest in either of the " niggers," as he stoutly 
asserted, but solely to please the Colonel. If that, 
indeed, were his only purpose, he succeeded to a 
charm, for when Surrey saw the two re-united, safe 
from the awful clutch of slavery, supplied with ample 
means for the journey and the settlement thereafter, 
and on their way to a good Northern home, he was 
more than pleased, — he was rejoiced, and said, 
" Thank God ! " with all his heart, and reverently, as 
he watched them away. 

Before the summer ended Jim was down with what 
he called " a scratch " ; a pretty ugly wound, the sur- 
geon thought it, and the Colonel remembered and 
looked after him with unflagging interest and zeal. 
Many a book and paper, many a cooling drink and bit 
of fruit delicious to the parched throat and fevered lips, 
found their way to the little table by his side. Surrey 
was never too busy by reason of his duties, or among 
his own sick and wounded men, to find time for a chat, 



I 



What Answer? 117 

or a scrap of reading, or to write a letter for the pros- 
trate and helpless fellow, who suffered without com- 
plaining, as, indeed, they did all about him, only 
relieving himself now and then by a suppressed growl. 

And so, with occasional episodes of individual inter- 
est, with marches and fightings, with extremes of heat 
and cold, of triumph and defeat, the long months wore 
away. These men were soldiers, each in his place in 
the great war with the record of which all the world is 
familiar, a tale written in blood, and flame, and tears, 
— terrible, yet heroic ; ghastly, yet sublime. As 
soldiers in such a conflict, they did their duty and 
noble endeavor, — Jim, a nameless private in the 
ranks, — Surrey, not braver perchance, but so conspic- 
uous with all the elements which fit for splendid com- 
mand, so fortunate in opportunities for their display, so 
eminent in seizing them and using them to their fullest 
extent, regardless of danger and death, as to make his 
name known and honored by all who watched the 
progress of the fight, read its record with interest, and 
knew its heroes and leaders with pride and love. 

In the winter of '63 Jim's regiment was ordered 
away to South Carolina • and he who at parting 
looked with keen regret on the face of the man who 
had been so faithful and well tried a friend, would 
have looked upon it with something deeper and sad- 
der, could he at the same time have gazed a little way 



Ii8 What Answer? 

into the future, and seen what it held in store for 
him. 

Four months after he marched away, Surrey's bri- 
gade was in that awful fight and carnage of Chancel- 
lorsville, where men fought like gods to counteract the 
blunders, and retrieve the disaster, induced by a stunned 
and helpless brain. There was he stricken down, 
at the head of his command, covered with dust and 
smoke ; . twice wounded, yet refusing to leave the 
field, — his head bound with a handkerchief, his eyes 
blazing like stars beneath its stained folds, his voice 
cheering on his men ; three horses shot under him ; on 
foot then ; contending for every inch of the ground he 
was compelled to yield ; giving way only as he was 
forced at the point of the bayonet ; his men eager to 
emulate him, to follow him into the jaws of death, to 
fall by his side, — thus was he prostrated ; not dead, 
as they thought and feared when they seized him and 
bore him at last from the field, but insensible, bleed- 
ing with frightful abundance, his right arm shattered 
to fragments ; not dead, yet at death's door — and 
looking in. 

May blossoms had dropped, and June harvests were 
ripe on all the fields, ere he could take advantage 
of the unsolicited leave, and go home. Home — for 
which his heart longed ! 

He was not, however, in too great haste to stop by 



What Answer f 119 

the way, to pause in Washington, and do what he had 
sooner intended to accomplish, — solicit, as a special 
favor to himself, as an honor justly won by the man 
for whom he entreated it, a promotion for Jim. " It 
is impossible now," he was informed, "but the case 
should be noted and remembered. If anything could 
certainly secure the man an advance, it was the advo- 
cacy of General Surrey " ; and so, not quite content, 
but still satisfied that Jim's time was in the near fu- 
ture, he went on his way. 

As the cars approached Philadelphia his heart beat 
so fast that it almost stifled him, and he leaned 
against the window heavily for air and support. It 
was useless to reason with himself, vain to call good 
judgment to his counsels and summon wisdom to his 
aid. This was her home. Somewhere in this city to 
which he was so rapidly hastening, she was moving 
up and down, had her being, was living and loving. 
After these long years his eyes so ached to see her, his 
heart was so hungry for her presence, that it seemed 
to him as though the sheer longing would call her out 
of her retreat, on to the streets through which he 
must pass, across his path, into the sight of his eyes 
and reach of his hand. He had thought that he felt 
all this before. He found, as the space diminished 
between them, — ■ as, perchance, she was but a stone's 
throw from his side, — that the pain, and the longing, 



120 What Answer? 

and the intolerable desire to behold her once again, 
increased a hundred-fold. 

Eager as he had been a little while before to reach 
his home, he was content to remain quietly here now. 
He laughed at himself as he stepped into a carriage, 
and, tired as he was, — for his amputated arm, not yet 
thoroughly healed, made him weak and worn, — drove 
through all the afternoon and evening, across miles 
and miles of heated, wearisome stones, possessed by 
the idea that somewhere, somehow, he should see her, 
he would find her before his quest was done. 

After that last painful rebuff, he did not dare to go 
to her home, could he find it, till he had secured from 
her, in some fashion, a word or sign. " This," he 
said, " is certainly doubly absurd, since she does not 
live in the city ; but she is here to-day, I know, — she 
must be here " ; and persisted in his endeavor, — per- 
sisted, naturally, in vain ; and went to bed, at last, 
exhausted ; determined that to-morrow should find him 
on his journey farther north, whatever wish might plead 
for delay, yet with a final cry for her from the depths 
of his soul, as he stretched out his solitary arm, ere 
sinking to restless sleep, and dreams of battle and 
death — sleep unrefreshing, and dreams ilk-omened; as 
he thought, again and again, rousing himself from their 
hold, and looking out to the night, impatient for the 
break of clay. 



What Answer f 12 1 

When day broke he was unable to rise with its 
dawn. The effect of all this tension on his already 
overtaxed nerves was to induce a fever in the unhealed 
arm, which, though not painful, was yet sufficient to 
hold him close prisoner for several days ; a delay 
which chafed him, and which filled his family at home 
with an intolerable anxiety, not that they knew its 
cause, — that would have been a relief, — but that they 
conjectured another, to them infinitely worse than sick- 
ness or suffering, bad and sorrowful as were these. 



CHAPTER X. 

" Gentlemen, let not prejudice prepossess you." 

Izaak Walton. 

CAR No. 14, Fifth Street line, Philadelphia, was 
crowded. Travelling bags, shawls, and dusters 
marked that people were making for the 1 1 a. m. New 
York train, Kensington depot. One pleasant-looking 
old gentleman whose face shone under a broad brim, 
and whose cleanly drabs were brought into distasteful 
proximity with the garments of a drunken coal-heaver, 
after a vain effort to edge away, relieved his mind by 
turning to his neighbor with the statement, " Consis- 
tency is a jewel." 

"Undoubtedly true, Mr. Greenleaf," answered the 
neighbor, " but what caused the remark ? " 

" That," — looking with mild disgust at the dirty and 
ragged leg sitting by his own. " Here 's this filthy 
fellow, a nuisance to everybody near him, can ride in 
these cars, and a nice, respectable colored person 
can't. So I could n't help thinking, and saying, that 
consistency is a jewel." 

" Well, it 's a shame, — that 's a fact ; but of course 
nobody can interfere if the companies don't choose to 
let them ride ; it 's their concern, not ours." 



What Answer? 123 

" There 's a fine specimen now, out there on the 
sidewalk." The fine specimen was a large, powerfully 
made man, black as ebony, dressed in army blouse 
and trousers, one leg gone, — evidently very tired, for 
he leaned heavily on his crutches. The conductor, a 
kindly-faced young fellow, pulled the strap, and helped 
him on to the platform with a peremptory " Move up 
front, there ! " to the people standing inside. 

" Why ! " exclaimed the old Friend, — " do my eyes 
deceive me?" Then getting up, and taking the man 
by the arm, he seated him in his own place : " Thou 
art less able to stand than I." 

Tears rushed to his eyes as he said, " Thank you, 
sir ! you are too kind." Evidently he was weak, and 
as evidently unaccustomed to find any one " too kind." 

" Thee has on the army blue ; has thee been fighting 
any?" 

" Yes, sir ! " he answered, promptly. 

" I did n't know black men were in the army ; yet 
thee has lost a leg. Where did that go ? " 

" At Newbern, sir." 

" At Newbern, — ah ! long ago ? and how did it 
happen ? " 

" Fourteenth of March, sir. There was a land fight, 
and the gunboats came up to the rescue. Some of us 
black men were upon board a little schooner that 
carried one gun. ' T was n't a great deal we could do 



124 What Answer? 

with that, but we did the best we could ; and got well 
peppered in return. This is what it did for. me," — 
looking down at the stump. 

" I guess thee is sorry now that thee did n't keep 
out of it, is n't thee ? " 

"No, sir j no indeed, sir. If I had five hundred legs 
and fifty lives, I 'd be glad to give them all in such a 
war as this." 

Here somebody got out ; the old Friend sat down ; 
and the coal-heaver, roused by the stir, lifted himself 
from his drunken sleep, and, looking round, saw who 
was beside him. 

A vile oath, an angry stare from his bloodshot eyes. 

" Ye , what are ye doin' here ? out wid ye, 

quick ! " 

" What 's the matter ? " queried the conductor, who 
was collecting somebody's fare. 

" The matther, is it ? matther enough ! what 's this 
nasty nagur doin' here ? Put him out, can't ye ? " 

The conductor took no notice. 

" Conductor ! " spoke up a well-dressed man, with 
the air and manner of a gentleman, " what does that 
card say ? " 

The conductor looked at the card indicated, upon 
which was printed " Colored people not allowed in this 
car," legible enough to require less study than he saw 
fit to give it. " Well ! " he said. 



What Answer f 125 

" Well," was the answer, — " your duty is plain. Put 
that fellow out." 

The conductor hesitated, — looked round the car. 
Nobody spoke. 

" I 'm sorry, my man ! I hoped there would be no 
objection when I let you in ; but our orders are strict, 
and, as the passengers ain't willing, you'll have to 
get off," — jerking angrily at the bell. 

As the car slackened speed, a young officer, whom 
nobody noticed, got on. 

There was a moment's pause as the black man gath- 
ered up his crutches, and raised himself painfully. 
" Stop ! " cried a thrilling and passionate voice, — 
" stand still ! Of what stuff are you made to sit here 
and see a man, mangled and maimed in your cause 
and for your defence, insulted and outraged at the bid- 
ding of a drunken boor and a cowardly traitor ? " The 
voice, the beautiful face, the intensity burning through 
both, electrified every soul to which she appealed. 
Hands were stretched out to draw back the crippled 
soldier ; eyes that a moment before were turned away 
looked kindly at him ; a Babel of voices broke out, 
"No, no," "let him stay," "it's a shame," "let 
him alone, conductor," " we ain't so bad as that," 
with more of the same kind ; those who chose not to 
join in the chorus discreetly held their peace, and 
made no attempt to sing out of time and tune. 



126 What Answer? 

The car started again. The gentleman, furious at 
the turn of the tide, cried out, " Ho, ho ! here 's a 
pretty preacher of the gospel of equality ! why, ladies 
and gentlemen, this high-flyer, who presumes to lec- 
ture us, is nothing but a" 

The sentence was cut short in mid-career, the inso- 
lent sneer dashed out of his face, — face and form 
prone on the floor of the car, — while over him bent 
and blazed the young officer, whose entrance^ a little 
while before, nobody had heeded. 

Spurning the prostrate body at his feet, he turned 
to Francesca, for it was she, and stretched out his 
hand, — his left hand, — -his only one. It was time ; 
all the heat, and passion, and color, had died out, and 
she stood there shivering, a look of suffering in her 
face. 

" Miss Ercildoune ! you are ill, — you need the air, 
— allow me ! " drawing her hand through his arm, and • 
taking her out with infinite deference and care. 

" Thank you ! a moment's faintness, — it is over 
now," as they reached the sidewalk. 

" No, no, you are too ill to walk, — let me get you a 
carriage." 

Hailing one that was passing by, he put her in, his 
hand lingering on hers, lingering on the folds of her 
dress as he bent to arrange it ; his eyes clinging to her 
face with a passionate, woful tenderness. " It is two 



What Answer? 127 

years since I saw you, since I have heard from you," 
he said, his voice hoarse with the effort to speak 
quietly. 

"Yes," she answered, " it is two years." Stooping 
her head to write upon a card, her lips moved as if 
they said something, — something that seemed like 
" I must ! only once ! " but of course that could not 
be. " It is my address," she then said, putting the 
card in his hand. " I shall be happy to see you in 
my own home." 

" This afternoon ? " eagerly. 

She hesitated. " Whenever you may call. I thank 
you again, — and good morning." 

Meanwhile the car had moved on its course : out- 
wardly, peaceful enough ; inwardly, full of commotion. 
The conservative gentleman, gathering himself up from 
his prone estate, white with passion and chagrin, saw 
about him everywhere looks of scorn, and smiles of 
derision and contempt, and fled incontinently from 
the sight. 

His coal-heaving confrere, left to do battle alone, 
came to the charge valiant and unterrified. Another 
outbreak of blasphemy and obscenity were the weap- 
ons of assault ; the ladies looked shocked, the gentle- 
men indignant and disgusted. 

" Friend," called the non-resistant broad-brim, beck- 
oning peremptorily to the conductor, — " friend, come 
here." 



128 What Answer 1 

The conductor came. 

" If colored persons are not permitted to ride, I 
suppose it is equally against the rules of the company 
to allow nuisances in their cars. Is n't it ? " 

" You are right, sir," assented the conductor, up- 
on whose face a smile of comprehension began to 
beam. 

" Well, I don't know what thee thinks, or what 
these other people think, but I know of no worse nui- 
sance than a filthy, blasphemous drunkard. There he 
sits, — remove him." 

There was a perfect shout of laughter and delight ; 
and before the irate " citizen " comprehended what 
was intended, or could throw himself into a pugilistic 
attitude, he was seized, sans ceremony, and ignomin- 
iously pushed and hustled from the car ; the people 
therein, black soldier and all, drawing a long breath 
of relief, and going on their way rejoicing. Every- 
body's eyes were brighter; hearts beat faster, blood 
moved more quickly ; everybody felt a sense of ela- 
tion, and a kindness towards their neighbor and all 
the world. A cruel and senseless prejudice had been 
lost in an impulse, generous and just ; and for a mo- 
ment the sentiment which exalted their humanity, viv- 
ified and gladdened their souls. 



CHAPTER XI. 

" The future seemed barred 
By the corpse of a dead hope." 

Owen Meredith. 

SO, then, after these long years he had seen her 
again. Having seen her, he wondered how he 
had lived without her. If the wearisome months 
seemed endless in passing, the morning hours were an 
eternity. " This afternoon ? " he had said. " Be it so," 
she had answered. He did not dare to go till then. 

Thinking over the scene of the morning, he scarcely 
dared go at all. She had not offered her hand ; she 
had expressed no pleasure, either by look or word, at 
meeting him again. He had forced her to say, 
" Come " : she could do no less when he had just in- 
terfered to save her insult, and had begged the boon. 

" Insult ! " his arm ached to strike another blow, as 
he remembered the sentence it had cut short. Of 
course the fellow had been drinking, but outrage of 
her was intolerable, whatever madness prompted it. 
The very sun must shine more brightly, and the wind 
blow softly, when she passed by. Ah me ! were the 
whole world what an ardent lover prays for his mistress, 
there were no need of death to enjoy the bliss of 
heaven. 

6* i 



130 What Answer? 

What could he say ? what do ? how find words 
to speak the measured feelings of a friend ? how con- 
trol the beatings of his heart, the passion of his soul, 
that no sign should escape to wound or offend her? 
She had bade him to silence : was he sufficiently 
master of himself to strike the lighter keys without 
sounding some deep chords that would jar upon her 
ear? 

He tried to picture the scene of their second meet- 
ing. He repeated again and again her formal title, 
Miss Ercildoune, that he might familiarize his tongue 
and his ear to the sound, and not be on the instant 
betrayed into calling the name which he so often ut- 
tered in his thoughts. He said over some civil, kindly 
words of greeting, and endeavored to call up, and ar- 
range in order, a theme upon which he should con- 
verse. " I shall not dare to be silent," he thought, 
" for if I am, my silence will tell the tale ; and if that 
do not, she will hear it from the throbbings of my 
heart. I don't know though," — he laughed a little, as 
he spoke aloud, — bitterly it would have been, had his 
voice been capable of bitterness, — " perhaps she will 
think Lie organism of the poor thing has become 
diseased in camp and fightings," — putting his hand 
up to his throat and holding the swollen veins, where 
the blood was beating furiously. 

Presently he went down stairs and out to the street, 



What Answer? 131 

in pursuit of some cut flowers which he found in a lit- 
tle cellar, a stone's throw from his hotel, — a fresh, 
damp little cellar, which smelt, he could not help 
thinking, like a grave. Coming out to the sunshine, 
he shook himself with disgust. " Faugh ! " he thought, 
" what sick fancies and sentimental nonsense possess 
me ? I am growing unwholesome. My dreams of the 
other night have come back to torment me in the day. 
These must put them to flight. 

The fancy which had sent him in pursuit of these 
flowers he confessed to be a childish one, but none 
the less soothing for that. He had remembered that 
the first day he beheld her a nosegay had decorated 
his button-hole ; a fair, sweet-scented thing which 
seemed, in some subtle way, like her. He wanted 
now just such another, — some mignonette, and gera- 
nium, and a single tea-rosebud. Here they were, — 
the very counterparts of those which he had worn on a 
brighter and happier day. How like they were ! how 
changed was he ! In some moods he would have 
smiled at this bit of girlish folly as he fastened the lit- 
tle thing over his heart ; now, something sounded in 
his throat that was pitifully like a sob. Don't smile at 
him ! he was so young j so impassioned, yet gentle ; 
and then he loved so utterly with the whole of his 
great, sore heart. 

By and by the time came to go, and eager, yet 



132 What Answer? 

fearful, he went. It was a fresh, beautiful day in early 
June ; and when the city, with its heat, and dust, and 
noise, was left behind, and all the leafy greenness — 
the soothing quiet of country sights and country 
sounds — met his ear and eye, a curious peace took 
possession of his soul. It was less the whisper of 
hope than the calm of assured reality. For the mo- 
ment, unreasonable as it seemed, something made him 
blissfully sure of her love, spite of the rebuffs and 
coldness she had compelled him to endure. 

" This is the place, sir ! " suddenly called his driver, 
stopping the horses in front of a stately avenue of 
trees, and jumping down to open the gates. 

"You need not drive in; you may wait here." 

This, then, was her home. He took in the exqui- 
site beauty of the place with a keen pleasure. It was 
right that all things sweet and fine should be about 
her ; he had before known that they were, but it de- 
lighted him to see them with his own eyes. Walking 
slowly towards the house, — slowly, for he was both 
impelled and retarded by the conflicting feelings that 
mastered him, — he heard her voice at a little distance, 
singing ; and directly she came out of a by-path, and 
faced him. He need not have feared the meeting ; 
at least, any display of emotion ; she gave no oppor- 
tunity for any such thing. 

A frankly extended hand, — an easy " Good after- 



What Answer! 133 

noon, Mr. Surrey!" That was all. It was a cool, 
beautiful room into which she ushered him ; a room 
filled with an atmosphere of peace, but which was any 
thing but peaceful to him. He was restless, nervous ; 
eager and excited, or absent and still. He deter- 
mined to master his emotion, and give no outward 
sign of the tempest raging within. 

At the instant of this conclusion his eye was caught 
by an exquisite portrait miniature upon an easel near 
him. Bending over it, taking it into his hands, his 
eyes went to and fro from the pictured face to the hu- 
man one, tracing the likeness in each. Marking his 
interest, Francesca said, " It is my mother." 

" If the eyes were dark, this would be your veritable 
image." 

" Or, if mine were blue, I should be a portrait of 
mamma, which would be better." 

" Better ? " 

" Yes." She was looking at the picture with weary 
eyes, which he could not see. " I had rather be the 
shadow of her than the reality of myself : an absurd 
fancy ! " she added, with a smile, suddenly remember- 
ing herself. 

" I would it were true ! " he exclaimed. 

She looked a surprised inquiry. His thought was, 
" for then I should steal you, and wear you always on 
my heart." But of course he could speak no such 



134 What Answer? 

lover's nonsense ; so he said, " Because of the fitness 
of things ; you wished to be a shadow, which' is im- 
material, and hence of the substance of angels." 

Truly he was improving. His effort to betray no 
love had led him into a ridiculous compliment. 
" What an idiot she will think me to say anything so 
silly ! " he reflected ; while Francesca was thinking, 
" He has ceased to love me, or he would not resort to 
flattery. It is well ! " but the pang that shot through 
her heart belied the closing thought, and, glancing at 
him, the first was denied by the unconscious expression 
of his eyes. Seeing that, she directly took alarm, and 
commenced to talk upon a score of indifferent themes. 

He had never seen her in such a mood : gay, witty, 
brilliant, — full of a restless sparkle and fire ; she 
would not speak an earnest word, nor hear one. She 
flung about bon-mots, and chatted airy persiflage till 
his heart ached. At another time, in another condition, 
he would have been delighted, dazzled, at this strange 
display ; but not now. ^ 

In some careless fashion the war had been alluded 
to, and she spoke of Chancellorsville. " It was there 
you were last wounded ? " 

" Yes," he answered, not even looking down at the 
empty sleeve. 

" It was there you lost your arm ? " 

" Yes," he answered again, " I am sorry it was my 
sword-arm." 



What Answer f 135 

" It was frightful," — holding her breath. " Do 
you know you were reported mortally wounded ? 
worse ? " 

" I have heard that I was sent up with the slain," 
he replied, half-smiling. 

" It is true. I looked for your name in the columns 
of ' wounded ' and ' missing,' and read it at last in 
the list of 'killed.'" 

" For the sake of old times, I trust you were a little 
sorry to so read it," he said, sadly, for the tone hurt 
him. 

" Sorry ? yes, I was sorry. Who, indeed, of your 
friends would not be ? " 

" Who, indeed ? " he repeated : " I am afraid the 
one whose regret I should most desire would sorrow 
the least." 

" It is very like," she answered, with seeming care- 
lessness, — " disappointment is the rule of life." 

This would not do. He was getting upon danger- 
ous ground. He would change the theme, and pre- 
vent any farther speech till he was better master of it. 
He begged for some music. She sat down at once 
and played for him ; then sang at his desire. Rich as 
she was in the gifts of nature, her voice was the chief, — 
thrilling, flexible, with a sympatheiie quality that in 
singing pathetic music brought tears, though the 
hearer understood not a word of the language in which 



136 What Answer? 

she sang. In the old time he had never wearied lis- 
tening, and now he besought her to repeat for him 
some of the dear, familiar songs. If these held for her 
any associations, he did not know it ; she gave no out- 
ward sign, — sang to him as sweetly and calmly as to 
the veriest stranger. What else had he expected ? 
Nothing ; yet, with the unreasonableness of a lover, 
was disappointed that nothing appeared. 

Taking up a piece at random, without pausing to 
remember the words, he said, spreading it before her, 
" May I tax you a little farther ? I am greedy, I 
know, but then how can I help it ? " 

It was the song of the Princess. 

She hesitated a moment, and half closed the book. 
Had he been standing where he could see her face, he 
would have been shocked by its pallor. It was over 
directly : she recovered herself, and, opening the 
music with a resolute air, began to sing : — 

" Ask me no more : the moon may draw the sea ; 

The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape, 
"With fold to fold, of mountain and of cape ; 
But, O too fond, when have I answered thee ? 
Ask me no more." 

" Ask me no more : what answer should I give ? 
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye ; 
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die ! 
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live : 
Ask mc no more." 



What Answer? 137 

She sang thus far with a clear, untrembling voice, — 
so clear and untrembling as to be almost metallic, — 
the restraint she had put upon herself making it un- 
natural. At the commencement she had estimated 
her strength, and said, " It is sufficient ! " but she 
had overtaxed it, as she found in singing the last 
verse : — 

" Ask me no more : thy fate and mine are sealed ; 
I strove against the stream and all in vain ; 
Let the great river take me to the main ; 
No more, dear love, for at a touch I jdeld : 
Ask me no more." 

All the longing, the passion, the prayer of which a 
human soul is capable found expression in her voice. 
It broke through the affected coldness and calm, as 
the ocean breaks through its puny barriers when, after 
wind and tempest, all its mighty floods are out. Sur- 
rey had changed his place, and stood fronting her. 
As the last word fell, she looked at him, and the two 
faces saw in each but a reflection of the same passion 
and pain : pallid, with eyes burning from an inward 
fire, — swayed by the same emotion, — she bent for- 
ward as he, stretching forth his arms, in a stifling voice 
cried, " Come !" 

Bent, but for an instant ; then, by a superhuman 
effort, turned from him, and put out her hand with a 
gesture of dissent, though she could not control her 
voice to speak a word. 



it, 8 What Answer? 

At that he came close to her, not touching her hand 
or even her dress, but looking into her face with im- 
ploring eyes, and whispering, " Francesca, my darling, 
speak to me ! say that you love me ! one word ! You 
are breaking my heart ! " 

Not a word. 

" Francesca ! " 

She had mastered her voice. " Go ! " she then 
said, beseechingly. " Oh, why did you ask me ? why 
did I let you come ? " 

" No, no," he answered. " I cannot go, — not till 
you answer me." 

" Ah ! " she entreated, " do not ask ! I can give 
no such answer as you desire. It is all wrong, — all 
a mistake. You do not comprehend." 

" Make me, then." 

She was silent. 

" Forgive me. I am rude : I cannot help it. I 
will not go unless you say, ' I do not love you.' Noth- 
ing but this shall drive me away." 

Francesca's training in her childhood had been by 
a Catholic governess ; she never quite lost its effect. 
Now she raised her hand to a little gold cross that 
hung at her neck, her fingers closing on it with a de- 
spairing clasp. " Ah, Christ, have pity!" her heart 
cried. " Blessed Mother of God, forgive me ! have 
mercy upon me ! " 



What Answer? 139 

Her face w T as frightfully pale, but her voice did not 
tremble as she gave him her hand, and said gently, 
" Go, then, my friend. I do not love you." 

He took her hand, held it close for a moment, and 
then, without another look or word, put it tenderly 
down, and was gone. 

So absorbed was he in painful thought that, passing 
down the long avenue with bent head, he did not no- 
tice, nor even see, a gentleman who, coming from the 
opposite direction, looked at him at first carelessly, and 
then searchingly, as he went by. 

This gentleman, a man in the prime of life, hand- 
some, stately, and evidently at home here, scrutinized 
the stranger with a singular intensity, — made a move- 
ment as though he would speak to him, — and then, 
drawing back, went with hasty steps towards the house. 

Had Willie looked up, beheld this face and its ex- 
pression, returned the scrutiny of the one, and com- 
prehended the meaning of the other, while memory 
recalled a picture once held in his hands, some things 
now obscured would have been revealed to him, and 
a problem been solved. As it was, he saw nothing, 
moved mechanically onward to the carriage, seated 
himself, and said, " Home ! " 

This young man was neither presumptuous nor 
vain. He had been once repulsed and but now ut- 
terly rejected. He had no reason to hope, and yet — 



140 What Ansiver? 

perhaps it was his poetical and imaginative tempera- 
ment — he could not resign himself to despair. 

Suddenly he started with an exclamation that was 
almost a cry. What was it ? He remembered that, 
more than two years ago, on the last day he had been 
with her, he had begged the copy of a duet which 
they sometimes sang. It was in manuscript, and he 
desired to. have it written out by her own hand. He 
had before petitioned, and she promised it ; and when 
he thus again spoke of it, she laughed, and said, " What 
a memory it is, to be sure ! I shall .have to tie a bit 
of string on my ringer to refresh it." 

" Is that efficacious ? " he had asked. 

" Doubtless," she had replied, searching in her 
pocket for a scrap of anything that would serve. 

" Will this do ? " he then queried, bringing forth a 
coil of gold wire which he had been commissioned to 
buy for some fanciful work of his mother. 

"Finely," she declared ; " it is durable, it will give 
me a wide margin, it will be long in wearing out." 

" Nay, then, you must have something more fragile," 
he had objected. 

At that they both laughed, as he twisted a fragment 
of it on the little finger of her right hand. "There 
it is to stay," he asserted, " till your promise is re- 
deemed." That was the last time he had seen her till 
to-day. 



What Answer? 141 

Now, sitting, thinking of the interview just passed, 
suddenly he remembered, as one often recalls the 
vision of something seemingly unnoticed at the time, 
that, upon her right hand, the little finger of the right 
hand, there was a delicate ring, — a mere thread, — in 
fact, a wire of gold ; the very one himself had tied 
there two years ago. 

In an instant, by one of those inexplicable connec- 
tions of the brain or soul, he found himself living over 
an experience of his college youth. 

He had been spending the day in Boston with a 
dear friend, some score of years his senior; a man of 
the rarest culture, and of a most sweet and gentle 
nature withal ; and when evening came they had 
drifted naturally to the theatre, — the fool's paradise it 
may be sometimes, but to them on that occasion a 
real paradise. 

He remembered well the play. It was Scott's Bride 
of Lammermoor. He had never read it, but, before 
the curtain rose, his friend had unfolded the story in 
so kind and skilful a manner as to have imbued him 
as fully with the spirit of the tale as though he had 
studied the book. 

What he chiefly recalled in the play was the scene 
in which Ravenswood comes back to Emily long after 
they had been plighted, — long after he had supposed 
her faithless, — long after he had been tossed on a sea 



142 What Answer? 

of troubles, touching the seeming decay in her affec- 
tions. Just as she is about to be enveloped in the 
toils which were spread for her, — just as she is about 
to surrender herself to the hated nuptials, and submit 
to the embrace of one whom she loathed more than 
she dreaded death, — Ravenswood, the man whom 
Heaven had made for her, presents himself. 

What followed was quiet, yet intensely dramatic. 
Ravenswood, wrought to the verge of despair, bursts 
upon the scene at the critical moment, detaches Emily 
from her party, and leads her slowly forward. He is 
unutterably sad. He questions her very tenderly ; 
asks her whether she is not enforced ; whether she is 
taking this step of her own free will and accord ; 
whether she has indeed dismissed the dear, old fond 
love for him from her heart forever ? He must hear 
it from her own lips. When timidly and feebly in- 
formed that such is indeed the case, he requests her 
to return a certain memento, — a silver trinket which 
had been given her as the symbol of his love on the 
occasion of their betrothal. Raising her hand to her 
throat she essays to draw it from her bosom. Her 
fingers rest upon the chain which binds it to her 
neck, but the o'erfraught heart is still, — the troubled, 
but unconscious head droops upon his shoulder, — he 
lifts the chain from its resting-place, and withdraws the 
token from her heart. 



What Answer t 143 

Supporting her with one hand and holding this 
badge of a lost love with the other, he says, looking 
down upon her with a face of anguish, and in a voice 
of despair, " And she could wear it thus ! " 

As this scene rose and lived before him, Surrey ex- 
claimed, " Surely that must have been the perfection 
of art, to have produced an effect so lasting and pro- 
found, — ' and she could wear it thus ! ' — ah," he said, 
as in response to some unexpressed thought, " but 
Emily loved Ravenswood. Why — ? " Evidently he 
was endeavoring to answer a question that baffled 
him. 



CHAPTER XII. 

"And down on aching heart and brain 
Blow after blow unbroken falls." 

Boker. 

" A LETTER for you, sir," said the clerk, as Surrey 
•*\ stopped at the desk for his key. It was a 
buiky epistle, addressed in his aunt Russell's hand, 
and he carried it off, wondering what she could have 
to say at such length. 

He was in no mood to read or to enjoy ; but, never- 
theless, tore open the cover, finding within it a double 
letter. Taking the envelope of one from the folds of 
the other, his eye fell first upon his mother's writing ; 
a short note and a puzzling one. 

" My dear Willie : — 

" I have tried to write you a letter, but cannot. I 
never wounded you if I could avoid it, and I do not 
wish to begin now. Augusta and I had a talk about 
you yesterday which crazed me with anxiety. She 
told me it was my place to write you what ought to be 
said under these trying circumstances, for we are sure 
you have remained in Philadelphia to see Miss Ercil- 
doune. At first I said I would, and then my heart 
failed me. I was sure, too, that she could write, as 



What Answer? 145 

she always does, much better than I ; so I begged her 

to say all that was necessary, and I would send her 

this note to enclose with her letter. Read it, I entreat 

you, and then hasten, I pray you, hasten to us at once. 

" Take care of your arm, do not hurt yourself by any 

excitement ; and, with dear love from your father, which 

he would send did he know I was writing, believe me 

always your devoted 

"Mother." 

" ' Trying circumstances ! ' — ' Miss Ercildoune ! ' — 
what does it mean ? " he cried, bewildered. " Come, 
let us see." 

The letter which he now opened was an old and 
much-fingered one, written — as he saw at the first 
glance — by his aunt to his mother. Why it was sent 
to him he could not conjecture ; and, without attempt- 
ing to so do, at once plunged into its pages : — 

" Continental Hotel, 

Philadelphia, June 27, 1861. 

" My dear Laura : — 

" I can readily understand with what astonishment 
you will read this letter, from the amazement I have 
experienced in collecting its details. I will not weary 
you with any personal narration, but tell my tale at 
once. 

"Miss Ercildoune, as you know, was my daughter's 
intimate at school, — a school, the admittance to which 
7 J 



146 What Answer? 

was of itself a guarantee of respectability. Of course 
I knew nothing of her family, nor of her, — save as 
Clara wrote me of her beauty and her accomplish- 
ments, and, above all, of her style, — till I met Mrs. 
Lancaster. Of her it is needless for me to speak. As 
you know, she is irreproachable, and her position is 
of the best. Consequently when Clara wrote me that 
her friend was to come to New York to her aunt, and 
begged to entertain her for a while, I added my re- 
quest to her entreaty, and Miss Ercildoune came. Ill- 
fated visit ! would it had never been made ! 

" It is useless now to deny her gifts and graces. 
They are, reluctantly I confess, so rare and so con- 
spicuous, — have so many times been seen, and known, 
and praised by us all, — that it would put me in the 
most foolish of attitudes should I attempt to recon- 
sider a verdict so frequently pronounced, or to eat my 
own words, uttered a thousand times. 

" It is also, I presume, useless to deny that we were 
well pleased — nay, delighted — with Willie's evident 
sentiment for her. Indeed, so thoroughly did she 
charm me, that, had I not seen how absolutely his 
heart was enlisted in her pursuit, she is the very girl 
whom I should have selected, could I have so done, as 
a wife for Tom and a daughter for myself. 

" I knew full well how deep was this feeling for her 
when he marched away, on that day so full of supreme 



What Answer? 147 

splendor and pain, unable to see her and to say adieu. 
His eyes, his face, his manner, his very voice, marked 
his restlessness, his longing, and disappointment. I 
was positively angry with the girl for thwarting and 
hurting him so, and, whatever her excuse might be, for 
her absence at such a time. How constantly are we 
quarrelling with our best fates ! 

" She remained in New York, as you know, for 
some weeks after the 19th; in fact, has been at home 
but for a little while. Once or twice, so provoked 
with her was I for disappointing our pet, I could not 
resist the temptation of saying some words about him 
which, if she cared for him, I knew would wound her : 
and, indeed, they did, — wounded her so deeply, as 
was manifest in her manner and her face, that I had 
not the heart to repeat the experiment. 

" One week ago I had a letter from Willie, enclos- 
ing another to her, and an entreaty, as he had written 
one which he was sure had miscarried, that I would 
see that this reached her hands in safety. So anxious 
was I to fulfil his request in its word and its spirit, 
and so certain that I could further his cause, — for I 
was sure this letter was a love-letter, — that I did not 
forward it by post, but, being compelled to come to 
Burlington, I determined to go on to Philadelphia, 
drive out to her home, and myself deliver the missive 
into her very hands. A most fortunate conclusion, as 
you will presently decide. 



148 What Answer •? 

"Last evening I reached the city, — rested, slept 
here, — and this morning was driven to her father's 
place. For all our sakes, I was somewhat anxious, 
under the circumstances, that this should be quite the 
thing ; and I confess myself, on the instant of its sight, 
more than satisfied. It is really superb ! — the grounds 
extensive, and laid out with the most absolute taste. 
The house, large and substantial, looks very like an 
English mansion ; with a certain quaint style and 
antique elegance, refreshing to contemplate, after the 
crude newness and ostentatious vulgarity of almost 
everything one sees here in America. It is within as 
it is without. Although a great many lovely things 
are scattered about of recent make, the wood-work 
and the heavy furniture are aristocratic from their very 
age, and, in their way, literally perfection. 

" Miss Ercildoune met me with not quite her usual 
grace and ease. She was, no doubt, surprised at my 
unexpected appearance, and — I then thought, as a 
consequence — slightly embarrassed. I soon after- 
wards discovered the constraint in her manner sprang 
from another cause. 

" I had reached the house just at lunch-time, and 
she would take me out to the table to eat something 
with her. I had hoped to see her father, and was dis- 
appointed when she informed me he was in the city. 
All I saw charmed me. The appointments of the ta- 



What Answer? 149 

ble were like those of the house : everything exquisite- 
ly fine, and the silver massive and old, — not a new 
piece among it, — and marked with a monogram and 
crest. 

" I write you all this that you may the more thorough- 
ly appreciate my absolute horror at the final denoue- 
ment, and share my astonishment at the presumption 
of these people in daring to maintain such style. 

" I had given her Willie's letter before we left the par- 
lor, with a significant word and smile, and was piqued 
to see that she did not blush, — in fact, became ex- 
cessively white as she glanced at the writing, and 
with an unsteady hand put it into her pocket. After 
lunch she made no motion to look at it, and as I had 
my own reasons for desiring her to peruse it, I said, 
1 Miss Francesca, will you not read your letter ? that I 
may know if there is any later news from our soldier.' 

" She hesitated a moment, and then said, with what I 
thought an unnatural manner, ' Certainly, if you so 
desire,' and, taking it out, broke the seal. ' Allow 
me,' she added, going towards a window, — as though 
she desired more light, but in reality, I knew, to turn 
her back upon me, — forgetting that a mirror, hang- 
ing opposite, would reveal her face with distinctness 
to my gaze. , 

" It was pale to ghastliness, with a drawn, haggard 
look about the mouth and eyes that shocked as much 



150 What Answer? 

as it amazed me ; and before commencing to read she 
crushed the letter in her hands, pressing it to her 
heart with a gesture which was less of a caress than 
of a spasm. 

" However, as she read, all this changed ; and before 
she finished I said, ' Ah, Willie, it is clear your cause 
needs no advocate.' Positively, I did not know a hu- 
man countenance could express such happiness ; there 
was something in it absolutely dazzling. And evi- 
dently entirely forgetful of me, she raised the paper to 
her mouth, and kissed it again and again, pressing 
her lips upon it with such clinging and passionate 
fondness as would have imbued it with life were 
that possible." 

Here Willie flung down his aunt's epistle and tore 
from his pocket this self-same letter. He had kept it, 
■ — carried it about with him, — for two reasons : be- 
cause it was hers, he said, — this avowal of his love 
was hers, whether she refused it or no, and he had no 
right to destroy her property ; and because, as he had 
nothing else she had worn or touched, he cherished 
this sacredly since it had been in her dear hands. 

Now he took it into his clasp as tenderly as though 
it were Francesca's face, and kissed it with the self- 
same clinging and passionate fondness as this of which 
he had just read. Here had her lips rested, — here ; 
he felt their fragrance and softness thrilling him under 



What Answer 1 151 

the cold, dead paper, and pressed it to his heart while 
he continued to read : — 

" Before she turned, I walked to another window, — 
wishing to give her time to recover calmness, or at 
least self-control, — and was at once absorbed in con- 
templating a gentleman whom I felt assured to be Mr. 
Ercildoune. He stood with his back to me, apparently- 
giving some order to the coachman : thus I could 
not see his face, but I never before was so impressed 
with, so to speak, the personality of a man. His phy- 
sique was grand, and his air and bearing magnificent, 
and I watched him with admiration as he walked 
slowly away. I presume he passed the window at 
which she was standing, for she called, ' Papa ! ' 
1 In a moment, dear,' he answered, and in a moment 
entered, and was presented ; and I, raising my eyes to 
his face, — ah, how can I tell you what sight they 
beheld ! 

" Self-possessed as I think I am, and as I certainly 
ought to be, I started back with an involuntary excla- 
mation, a mingling doubtless of incredulity and dis- 
gust. This man, who stood before me with all the 
ease and self-assertion of a gentleman, was — you 
will never believe it, I fear — a mulatto I 

" Whatever effect my manner had on him was not 
perceptible. He had not seated himself, and, with 
a smile that was actually satirical, he bowed, ut- 



152 What Answer? 

tered a few 'words of greeting, and went out of the 
room. 

" ' How dared you ? ' I then cried, for astonishment 
had given place to rage, 'how dared you deceive me — 
deceive us all — so ? how dared you palm yourself off 
as white and respectable, and thus be admitted to Mr. 
Hale's school and to the society and companionship 
of his pupils ? ' I could scarcely control myself when 
I thought of how shamefully we had all been cozened. 

"'Pardon me, madam,' she answered with effron- 
tery, — effrontery under the circumstances, — ' you 
forget yourself, and what is due from one lady to 
another.' (Did you ever hear of such presumption ! ) 
'I practised no deceit upon Professor Hale. He 
knew papa well, — was his intimate friend at college, in 
England, — and was perfectly aware who was Mr. Ercil- 
doune's daughter when she was admitted to his school. 
For myself, I had no confessions to make, and made 
none. I was your daughter's friend ; as such, went to 
her house, and invited her here. I trust you have 
seen in me nothing unbecoming a gentlewoman, as, uj> 
to this time, I have beheld in you naught save the attri- 
butes of a lady. If we are to have any farther conver- 
sation, it must be conducted on the old plan, and not 
the extraordinary one you have just adopted; else I 
shall be compelled, in self-respect, to leave you alone 
in my own parlor.' 



What Answer? 153 

" Imagine if you can the effect of this speech upon 
me. I assure you I was composed enough outwardly, 
if not inwardly, ere she ended her sentence. Having 
finished, I said, ' Pardon me, Miss Ercildoune, for any 
words which may have offended your dignity. I will 
confine myself for the rest of our interview to your own 
rules.' 

" ' It is well,' she responded. I had spoken sa- 
tirically, and expected to see her shrink under it, but 
she answered with perfect coolness and sang froid. I 
continued, ' You will not deny that you are a negro, at 
least a mulatto.' 

" ' Pardon me, madam,' she replied ; e my father is 
a mulatto, my mother was an Englishwoman. Thus, 
to give you accurate information upon the subject, I 
am a quadroon.' 

" ' Quadroon be it ! ' I answered, angrily again, I 

fear. ' Quadroon, mulatto, or negro, it is all one. I 

have no desire to split hairs of definition. You could 

not be more obnoxious were you black as Erebus. I 

have no farther words to pass upon the past or the 

present, but something to say of the future. You hold 

in your hands a letter — a love-letter, I am sure — a 

declaration, as I fear — from my nephew, Mr. Surrey. 

You will oblige me by at once sitting down, writing a 

peremptory and unqualified refusal to his proposal, if 

he has made you one, — a refusal that will admit of no 
7 * 



154 What Answer? 

hope and no double interpretation, — and give it into 
my keeping before I leave this room.' 

"When I first alluded to Willie's letter she had 
crimsoned, but before I closed she was so white ' I 
should have thought her fainting, but for the fire in her 
eyes. However, she spoke up clear enough when she 
said, ' And what, madam, if I deny your right to dic- 
tate any action whatever to me, however insignificant, 
and utterly refuse to obey your command ? ' 

" ' At your peril do so,' I exclaimed. ' Refuse, 
and I will write -the whole shameful story, with my own 
comments ; and you may judge for yourself of the 
effect it will produce.' 

" At that she smiled, — an indescribable sort of 
smile, — and shut her fingers on the letter she held, 
— I could not help thinking as though it were a 
human hand. ' Very well, madam, write it. He has 
already told me ' — 

" ' That he loves you,' I broke in. ' Do you 
think he would continue to do so if he knew what 
you are ? ' 

" c He knows me as well now,' she answered, ' as he 
will after reading any letter of yours.' 

" ' Incredible ! ' I exclaimed. ' When he wrote you 
that, he did not know, he could not have known, your 
birth, your race, the taint in your blood. I will never 
believe it.' 



What Answer? 155 

" * No,' she said, ' I did not say he did. I said 
he knew me; so well, I think, judging from this/ — 
clasping his letter with the same .curious pressure I 
had before noticed, — • ' that you could scarcely en- 
lighten him farther. He knows my heart, and soul, 
and brain, — as I said, he knows me? 

" ' O, yes,' I answered, — or rather sneered, for I 
was uncontrollably indignant through all this, — 'if 
you mean that, very likely. I am not talking lovers' 
metaphysics, but practical common-sense. He does 
not know the one thing at present essential for him to 
know ; and he will abandon you, spurn you, — his love 
turned to scorn, his passion to contempt, — when he 
reads what I shall write him if you refuse to do what I 
demand.' 

" I expected to see her cower before me. Conceive, 
then, if you can, my sensations when she cried, ' Stop, 
madam ! Say what you will to me ; insult, outrage me, 
if you please, and have not the good breeding and 
dignity to forbear ; but do not presume to so slander 
him. Do not presume to accuse him, who is all nobil- 
ity and greatness of soul, of a sentiment so base, a 
prejudice so infamous. Study him, madam, know 
him better, ere you attempt to be his mouth-piece.' 

" As she uttered these words, a horrible foreboding 
seized me, or, to speak more truthfully, I so felt the 
certainty of what she spoke, that a shudder of terror 



156 What Answer •? 

ran over me. I thought of him, of his character, of 
his principles, of his insane sense of honor, of his ter- 
rible will under all that soft exterior, — the hand of 
steel under the silken glove ; I saw that if I persisted 
and she still refused to yield I should lose all. On the 
instant I changed my attack. 

" ' It is true,' I said, ' having asked you to become 
his wife, he will marry you ; he will redeem his pledge 
though it ruin his life and blast his career, to say 
nothing of the effect an unending series of outrages 
and mortifications will have upon his temper and his 
heart. A pretty love, truly, yours must be, — what- 
ever his is, — to condemn him to so terrible an ordeal, 
so frightful a fate.' 

" She shivered at that, and I went on, — blaming 
my folly in not remembering, being a woman, that it 
was with a woman and her weakness I had to deal. 

" ' He is young,' I continued ; ' he has probably a 
long life before him. Rich, handsome, brilliant, — a 
magnificent career opening to him, — position, ease, 
troops of friends, — you will ruthlessly ruin all this. 
Married to you, white as you are, the peculiarity of 
your birth would in some way be speedily known. His 
father would disinherit him (it was not necessary to 
tell her he has a fortune in his own right), his 
family disown him, his friends abandon him, so- 
ciety close its doors upon him, business refuse to 



What Answer? 157 

seek him, honor and riches elude his grasp. If 
you do not know the strength of this prejudice, which 
you call infamous, pre-eminently in the circle to which 
he belongs, I cannot tell it you. Taking all this from 
him, what will you give him in return ? Ruining his 
life, can your affection make amends ? Blasting his 
career, will your love fill the gap ? Do you flatter 
yourself by the supposition that you can be father, 
mother, relatives, friends, society, wealth, position, 
honor, career, — all, — to him ? Your people are cursed 
in America, and they transfer their curse to any one 
mad enough, or generous enough (that was a diplo- 
matic turn), to connect his fate with yours.' 

" Before I was through, I saw that I had carried 
my point. All the fine airs went out of my lady, 
and she looked broken and humbled enough. I 
might have said less, but I ached to say more to 
the insolent. 

"' Enough, madam,' she gasped, 'stop.' And 
then said, more to herself than to me, ' I could give 
heaven for him,' — the rest I rather guessed from the 
motion of her lips than from any sound, — ' but I can- 
not ask him to give the world for me.' 

" t Will you write the letter ? ' I asked. 

" ' No.' — She said the word with evident effort, and 
then, still more slowly, 'I will give you a mes- 
sage. Say, " I implore you never to write me again, — 



158 What Answer? 

to forget me. I beseech of you not to try me by any 
farther appeals, as I shall but return them unopened.'" 
I wrote down the words as she spoke them. ' This is 
well,' I said, when she finished ; ' but it is not enough. 
I must have the letter.' 

" 'The letter ? ' she said. ' What need of a letter ? 
surely that is sufficient.' 

" ' I do not mean your letter. I mean his, — the one 
which you hold in your hands.' 

" ' This ? ' she queried, looking down on it, -— ' this ? ' 

" I thought the repetition senseless and affected, but 
I answered, 'Yes, — that. He will not believe you 
are in earnest if you keep his avowal of love. You 
must give him up entirely. If you let me send that 
back, with your words, he shall never — at least from 
me — have clew or reason for your conduct. That 
will close the whole affair.' 

" ' Close the whole affair ,' she repeated after me, 
mechanically, — - ' close the whole affair.' 

" I was getting heartily tired of this, and had no 
desire to listen to an echo conversation ; so, without 
answering, I stretched out my hand for it. She held 
it towards me, then drew it back and raised it to her 
heart with the same gesture I had marked when she 
first opened it, — a gesture as I said, of that, which was 
less of a caress than a spasm. Indeed, I think now 
that it was wholly physical and involuntary. Then she 



What A nswer t 159 

handed it to me, and, motioning towards the door, said, 
'Go!' 

" I rose, and, infamous as I thought her past de- 
ceit, wearied as I was with the interview, small claim 
as she had upon me for the slightest consideration, I 
said { You have done well, Miss Ercildoune ! I 
commend you for your sensible decision, and for your 
ability, if late, to appreciate the situation. I wish you 
all success in life, I am sure ; and, permit me to add, 
a future union with one of your own race, if that will 
bring you happiness.' 

" Heavens ! what a face and what eyes she turned 
upon me as, rising, she once more pointed to the door, 
and cried, ' Go ! ' And indeed I went, — the girl ac- 
tually frightened me. 

" When I got on to the lawn, I missed my bag and 
parasol, and had to return for them. I opened the 
door with some slight trepidation, but had no need for 
fear. She was lying prostrate upon the floor, as I 
saw on coming near, in a dead faint. She had evi- 
dently fallen so suddenly and with such force as to 
have hurt herself ; her head had struck against an or- 
nament of the bookcase, near which she had been 
standing ; and a little stream of blood was trickling 
from her temple. It made me sick to behold it. As 
I looked at her where she lay, I could not but pity her 
a little, and think what a merciful fate it would be for 



160 What Answer? 

her, and such as she, if they could all die, — and so 
put an end to what, I presume, though I never before 
thought of it, is really a very hard existence. 

" It was no time, however, to sentimentalize. I 
rang for a servant, and, having waited till one came, 
took my leave. 

" Of course all this is very shocking and painful, but 

I am glad I came. The matter is ended now in a 

satisfactory manner. I think it has been well done. 

Let us both keep our counsel, and the affair will soon 

become a memory with us, as it is nothing with every 

one else. 

" Always your loving sister, 

"Augusta." 

It is better to be silent upon some themes than to 
say too little. Words would fail to express the emo- 
tions with which Willie read this history : let silence 
and imagination tell the tale. 

Flinging down the paper with a passionate cry, he 
saw yet another letter, — the one in which these had 
been enfolded, — a letter written to him, and by Mrs. 
Russell. As by a flash, he perceived that there had 
been some blunder here, by which he was the gainer ; 
and, partly at least, comprehended it. 

These two, mother and aunt, fearing the old fire 
had not yet burned to ashes, — nay, from their knowl- 
edge of him, sure of it, — hearing naught of his illness, 



What A nswer ? 161 

for he did not care to distress them by any account 
thereof, were satisfied that he had either met, or was 
remaining to compass a meeting, with Miss Ercildoune. 
His mother had not the 5 courage, or the baseness, to 
write such a letter as that to which Mrs. Russell urged 
her, — a letter which should degrade his love in his 
own eyes, and recall him from an unworthy pursuit. 
" Very well ! " Mrs. Russell had then said, " it will 
be better from you ; it will look more like unwarranted 
interference from me ; but I will write, and you shall 
send an accompanying line. Let me have it to- 
morrow." 

The next morning Mrs. Surrey was not well enough 
to drive out, and thus sent her note by a servant, en- 
closing with it the letter of June 27th, — thinking that 
her sister might want it for reference. When it 
reached Mrs. Russell, it was almost mail-time, and 
with the simple thought, " So, — Laura has written it, 
after all," she enclosed it in her own, and sent it off, 
post-haste ; not even looking at the unsealed envelope, 
as Mrs. Surrey had taken for granted she would, and 
thus failing to know of its double contents. 

Thus the very letter which they would have com- 
passed land and sea to have prevented coming under 
his eyes, unwisely yet most fortunately kept in exist- 
ence, was sent by themselves to his hands. 

Without pausing to read a line of that which his 



1 62 What A nswer ? 

aunt had written him, he tore it into fragments, flung 
it into the empty grate ; and, bounding down the stairs 
and on to the street, plunged into a carriage and was 
whirled away, all too slowly, to the home he had left 
but a little space before with such widely, such pain- 
fully different emotions. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

" I could not love thee, dear, so much, 
Loved I not honor more." 

Lovklace. 

JUST after Surrey, for the third time, had passed 
through the avenue of trees, two men appeared in 
it, earnestly conversing. One, the older, was the same 
who had met Willie as he was going out, and had 
examined him with such curious interest. The other, 
in feature, form, and bearing, was so absolutely the 
counterpart of his companion that it was easy to 
recognize in them father and son, — a father and son 
whom it would be hard to match. "The finest type 
of the Anglo-Saxon race I have seen from America," 
was the verdict pronounced upon Mr. Ercildoune, 
when he was a young man studying abroad, by an 
enthusiastic and nationally ignorant Englishman ; 
" but then, sir," he added, " what very dark complex- 
ions you Americans have ! Is it universal ? " 

" By no means, sir," was Mr. Ercildoune's reply. 
" There are some exceedingly fine ones among my 
countrymen. I come from the South : that is a bad 
climate for the tint of the skin." 



164 What Answer? 

" Is it so ? " exclaimed John Bull, — " worse than 
the North?" 

" Very much worse, sir, in more ways than one." • 

Perhaps Robert Ercildoune was a trifle fairer than 
his father, but there was still perceptible the shade 
which marked him as effectually an outcast from the 
freedom of American society, and the rights of Ameri- 
can citizenship, as though it had been the badge of 
crime or the strait jacket of a madman. Something 
of this was manifested in the conversation in which 
the two were engaged. 

" It is folly, Robert, for you to carry your refinement 
and culture into the ranks as a common soldier, to 
fight and to die, without thanks. You are made of too 
good stuff to serve simply as food for powder." 

"Better men than I, father, have gone there, and 
are there to-day ; men in every way superior to me." 

" Perhaps, — yes, if you will have it so. But what 
are they ? white men, fighting for their own country 
and flag, for their own rights of manhood and 
citizenship, for a present for themselves and a 
future for their children, for honor and fame. What 
is there for you ? " 

" For one thing, just that of which you spoke. Per- 
haps not a present for me, but certainly a future for 
those that come after." 

" A future ! How are you to know ? what warrant or 



What Answer? 165 

guarantee have you for any such future ? Do you judge 
by the past ? by the signs of to-day ? I tell you this 
American nation will resort to any means — will pledge 
anything, by word or implication — to secure the end 
for which it fights ; and will break its pledges just so 
soon as it can, and with whomsoever it can with im- 
punity. You, and your children, and your children's 
children after you, will go to the wall unless it has need 
of you in the arena." 

" I do not think so. This whole nation is learning, 
through pain and loss, the lesson of justice ; of ex- 
pediency, doubtless, but still of justice ; and I do 
not think it will be forgotten when the war is -ended. 
This is our time to wipe off a thousand stigmas of con- 
tempt and reproach : this " — 

" Who is responsible for them ? ourselves ? What 
cast them there ? our own actions ? I trow not. Mark 
the facts. I pay taxes to support the public schools, 
and am compelled to have my children educated at 
home. I pay taxes to support the government, and 
am denied any representation or any voice in regard 
to the manner in which these taxes shall be expended. 
I hail a car on the street, and am laughed to scorn by 
the conductor, — or, admitted, at the order of the pas- 
sengers am ignominiously expelled. I offer my money 
at the door of any place of public amusement, and it 
is flung back to me with an oath. I enter a train to 



1 66 What Answer? 

New York, and am banished to the rear seat or the 
' negro car.' I go to a hotel, open for the accommo- 
dation of the public, and am denied access ; or am re- 
quested to keep my room, and not show myself in 
parlor, office, or at table. I come within a church, to 
worship the good God who is no respecter of persons, 
and am shown out of the door by one of his insolent 
creatures. I carry my intelligence to the polls on 
election morning, and am elbowed aside by an 
American boor or a foreign drunkard, and, with oppro- 
brious epithets by law officers and rabble, am driven 
away. All this in the North ; all this without excuse 
of slavery and of the feeling it engenders ; all this 
from arrogant hatred and devilish malignity. At last, 
the country which has disowned me, the government 
which has never recognized save to outrage me, the 
flag which has refused to cover or to protect me, are 
in dire need and utmost extremity. Then do they cry 
for me and mine to come up to their help ere they perish. 
At least, they hold forth a bribe to secure me ? at 
least, if they make no apology for the past, they offer 
compensation for the future ? at least, they bid high 
for the services they desire ? Not at all ! 

" They say to one man, ' Here is twelve hundred 
dollars bounty with which to begin ; here is sixteen 
dollars a month for pay ; here is the law passed, and 
the money pledged, to secure you in comfort for the 



What Answer? i5y 

rest of life, if wounded or disabled, or help for 
your family, if killed. Here is every door set wide 
for you to rise, from post to post ; money yours, ad- 
vancement yours, honor, and fame, and glory yours ; 
the love of a grateful country, the applause of an ad- 
miring world.' 

" They say to another man, — you, or me, or Sam 
out there in the field, — ' There is no bounty for you, 
not a cent ; there is pay for you, twelve dollars a 
month, the hire of a servant; there is no pension 
for you, or your family, if you be sent back from the 
front, wounded or dead j if you are taken prisoner 
you can be murdered with impunity, or be sold as a 
slave, without interference on our part. Fight like a 
lion! do acts of courage and splendor! and you shall 
never rise above the rank of a private soldier. For 
you there is neither money nor honor, rights secur- 
ed, nor fame gained. Dying, you fall into a nameless 
grave : living, you come back to your old estate of 
insult and wrong. If you refuse these tempting offers, 
we brand you cowards. If, under these infamous re- 
straints and disadvantages, you fail to equal the white 
troops by your side, you are written down — inferiors. 
If you equal them, you are still inferiors. If you per- 
form miracles, and surpass them, you are, in a measure, 
worthy commendation at last ; we consent to see in 
you human beings, fit for mention and admiration, — 



1 68 What Answer? 

not as types of your color and of what you intrinsically 
are, but as exceptions ; made such by the habit of 
association, and the force of surrounding circum- 
stances.' 

"These are the terms the American people offer 
you, these the terms which you stoop to accept, these 
the proofs that they are learning a lesson of justice! 
So be it ! there is need. Let them learn it to the 
full ! let this war go on ' until the cities be wasted 
without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and 
the land be utterly destroyed.' Do not you interfere. 
Leave them to the teachings and the judgments of 
God." 

Ercildoune had spoken with such impassioned feel- 
ing, with such fire in his eyes, such terrible earnest- 
ness in his voice, that Robert could not, if he 
would, interrupt him ; and, in the silence, found no 
words for the instant at his command. Ere he sum- 
moned them they saw some one approaching. 

" A fine-looking fellow ! fighting has been no child's 
play for him," said Robert, looking, as he spoke, at 
the empty sleeve. 

Mr. Ercildoune advanced to meet the stranger, and 
Surrey beheld the same face upon whose pictured sem- 
blance he had once gazed with such intense feelings, 
first of jealousy, and then of relief and admiration; the 
same splendor of life, and beauty, and vitality. Surrey 



What Answer? 169 

knew him at once, knew that it was Francesca's 
father, and went up to him with extended hand. Mr. 
Ercildoune took the proffered hand, and shook it 
warmly. " I am happy to meet you, Mr. Surrey." 

" You know me ? " said he with surprise. " I 
thought to present myself." 

" I have seen your picture." 

"And I yours. They must have held the mirror 
up to nature, for the originals to be so easily known. 
But may I ask where you saw mine ? yours was in 
Miss Ercildoune's possession." 

" As was yours," was answered after a moment's 
hesitation, — Surrey thought, with visible reluctance. 
His heart flew into his throat. " She has my picture, 
— she has spoken of me," he said to himself. "I 
wonder what her father will think, — what he will do. 
Come, I will to the point immediately." 

"Mr. Ercildoune," said he, aloud, "you know some- 
thing of me ? of my position and prospects ? " 

" A great deal." 

" I trust, nothing disparaging or ignoble." 

"I know nothing for which any one could desire 
oblivion." 

" Thanks. Let me speak to you, then, of a matter 
which should have been long since proposed to you 
had I been permitted the opportunity. I love your 
daughter. I cannot speak about that, but you will un- 



170 What Answer? 

derstand all that I wish to say. I have twice — once 
by letter, once by speech — let her know this and my 
desire to call her wife. She has twice refused, — abso- 
lutely. You think this should cut off all hope ? " 

Ercildoune had been watching him closely. " If 
she does not love you," he answered, at the pause. 

" I do not know. I went away from here a little 
while ago with her peremptory command not to return. 
I should not have dared disobey it had I not learned 
— thought — in fact, but for some circumstances — 
I beg your pardon — I do not know what I am saying. 
I believed if I saw her once more I could change her 
determination, — could induce her to give me another 
response, — and came with that hope." 

"Which has failed?" 

" Which has thus far failed that she will not at all 
see me ; will hold no communication with me. I 
should be a ruffian did I force myself on her thus with- 
out excuse or reason. My own love would be no 
apology did I not think, did I not dare to hope, that 
it is not aversion to me that induces her to act as she 
has clone. Believing so, may I beg a favor of you ? 
may I entreat that you will induce her to see me, if 
only for a little while ? " 

Ercildoune smiled a sad, bitter smile, as he an- 
swered, " Mr. Surrey, if my daughter does not love 
you, it would be hopeless for you or for me to assail 



What Answer? iji 

her refusal. If she does, she has doubtless rejected 
you for a reason which you can read by simply looking 
into my face. No words of mine can destroy or do 
that away." 

" There is nothing to destroy ; there is nothing to 
do away. Thank you for speaking of it, and making 
the way easy. There is nothing in all the wide world 
between us, — there can be nothing between us, — if 
she loves me ; nothing to keep us apart save her in- 
difference or lack of regard for me. I want to say so 
to her if she will give me the chance. Will you not 
help me to it ? " 

" You comprehend all that I mean ? " 

" I do. It is, as I have said, nothing. That love 
would not be worth the telling that considered extra- 
neous circumstances, and not the object itself." 

" You have counted all the consequences ? I think 
not. How, indeed, should yon be able % Come with 
me a moment." The two went up to the house, across 
the wide veranda, into a room half library, half loung- 
ing-room, which, from a score of evidences strewn 
around, was plainly the special resort of the master. 
Over the mantel hung the life-size portrait of an ex- 
cessively beautiful woman. A fine, spirituelle face, 
with proud lines around the mouth and delicate nos- 
trils, but with a tender, appealing look in the eyes, 
that claimed gentle treatment. This face said, " I was 



172 What Answer? 

made for sunshine and balmy airs, but, if darkness 
and storm assail, I can walk through them unflinching, 
though the progress be short ; I can die, and give 
no sign." Willie went hastily up to this, and stood, 
absorbed, before it. " Francesca is very like her 
mother," said Ercildoune, coming to his side. It was 
his own thought, but he made no answer. 

" I will tell you something of her and myself; a very 
little story ; you can draw the moral. My father, 
who was a Virginian, sent my brother and me to Eng- 
land when we were mere boys, to be trained and edu- 
cated. After his fashion, doubtless, he loved us ; for 
he saw that we had every -advantage that wealth, and 
taste, and care could provide ; and though he never 
sent for us, nor came to us, in all the years after we 
left his house, — and though we had no legal claim 
upon him, — he acknowledged us his children, and 
left us the entire proceeds of his immense estates, un- 
incumbered. We were so young when we went 
abroad, had been so tenderly treated at home, had 
seen and known so absolutely nothing of the society 
about us, that we were ignorant as Arabs of the state 
of feeling and prejudice in America against such as 
we, who carried any trace of negro blood. Our treat- 
ment in England did but increase this oblivion. 

" We graduated at Oxford ; my brother, who was two 
years older than I, waiting upon me that we might go 



What Answer t 173 

together through Europe ; and together we had three of 
the happiest years of life. On the Continent I met 
her. You see what she is ; you know Francesca : it 
is useless for me to attempt to describe her. I loved 
her, — she loved me, — it was confessed. In a little 
while I called her wife ; I would, if I could, tell you of 
the time that followed : I cannot. We had a beauti- 
ful home, youth, health, riches, friends, happiness, 
two noble boys. At last an evil fate brought us 
to America. I was to look after some business af- 
fairs which, my agent said, needed personal supervi- 
sion. My brother, whose health had failed, was ad- 
vised to try a sea-voyage, and change of scene and cli- 
mate. My wife was enthusiastic about the glorious 
Republic, — the great, free America, — the land of my 
birth. We came, carrying with us letters from friends 
in England, that were an open sesame to the most 
jealously barred doors. They flew wide at our ap- 
proach, but to be shut with speed when my face was 
seen ; hands were cordially extended, and drawn back 
as from a loathsome contact when mine went to meet 
them. In brief, we were outlawed, ostracised, sacrificed 
on the altar of this devilish American prejudice, — 
wholly American, for it is found nowhere else in the 
world, — I for my color, she for connecting her fate 
with mine. 

" I was so held as to be unable to return at once, 



174 What Answer? 

and she would not leave me. Then my brother 
drooped more and more. His disease needed the 
brightest and most cheerful influences. The social 
and moral atmosphere stifled him. He died ; and we, 
with grief intensified by bitterness, laid him in the soil 
of his own country as though it had been that of the 
stranger and enemy. 

" At this time the anti-slavery movement was pro- 
voking profound thought and feeling in America. I 
at once identified myself with it ; not because I was 
connected with the hated and despised race, but be- 
cause I loathed all forms of tyranny, and fought against 
them with what measure of strength I possessed. 
Doubtless this made me a more conspicuous mark for 
the shafts of malice and cruelty, and as I could no- 
where be hurt as through her, malignity exhausted its 
devices there. She was hooted at when she appeared 
with me on the streets ; she was inundated with infa- 
mous letters; she was dragged before a court of jus- 
tice upon the plea that she had defied the law of the 
state against amalgamation, forbidding the marriage of 
white and colored ; though at the time it was known 
that she was English, that we were married in England 
and by English law. One night, in the midst of the 
riots which in 1838 disgraced this city, our house was 
surrounded by a mob, burned over us ; and I, with a 
few faithful friends, barely succeeded in carrying her to 



What Answer? 175 

a place of safety, — uncovered, save by her delicate 
night-robe and a shawl, hastily caught up as we hur- 
ried her away. The yelling fiends, the burning house, 
the awful horror of fright and danger, the shock to her 
health and strength, the storm, — for the night was a 
wild and tempestuous one, which drenched her to the 
skin, — from all these she might have recovered, had 
not her boy, her first-born, been carried into her, 
bruised and dead, — dead, through an accident of 
burning rafters and falling stones ; an accident, they 
said ; yet as really murdered as though they had wil- 
fully, and brutally stricken him down. 

" After that I saw that she, too, would die, were she 
not taken back to our old home. The preparations 
were hastily made ; we turned our faces towards Eng- 
land ; we hoped to reach it at least before another pair 
of eyes saw the light, but hoped in vain. There on 
the broad sea Francesca was born. There her 
mother died. There was she buried." 

It was with extreme difficulty Ercildoune had con- 
trolled his face and voice, through the last of this 
distressing recital, and with the final word he bowed 
his forehead on the picture-frame, - — convulsed with 
agony, — while voiceless sobs, like spasms, shook his 
form. Surrey realized that no words were to be said 
here, and stood by, awed and silent. What hand, 
however tender, could be laid on such a wound as 
this ? 



176 What Answer? 

Presently he looked up, and continued : " I came 
back here, because, I said, here was my place. I had 
wealth, education, a thousand advantages which are 
denied the masses of people who are, like me, of 
mixed race. I came here to identify my fate with 
theirs ; to work with and for them ; to fight, till I died, 
against the cruel and merciless prejudice which grinds 
them down. I have a son, who has just entered the 
service of this country, perhaps to die under its flag. 
I have a 'daughter," — Willie flushed and started 
forward ; — "I asked you when I began this recital, if 
you had counted all the consequences. You know 
my story ; you see with what fate you link yours ; 
reflect ! Francesca carries no mark of her birth ; her 
father or brother could not come inside her home 
without shocking society by the scandal, were not the 
story earlier known. The man whom you struck down 
this morning is one of our neighbors ; you saw and 
heard his brutal assault : are you ready to face more of 
the like kind ? Better than you I know what sentence 
will be passed upon you, — what measure awarded. 
It is for your own sake I say these things ; consider 
them. I have finished." 

Surrey had made to speak a half score of times, 
and as often checked himself, — partly that he should 
not interrupt his companion ; partly that he might be 
master of his emotions, and say what he had to utter 
without heat or excitement. 



What Answer? 177 

" Mr. Ercildoune," he now said, " listen to me. I 
should despise myself were I guilty of the wicked and 
vulgar prejudice universal in America. I should be 
beneath contempt did I submit or consent to it. Two 
years ago I loved Miss Ercildoune without knowing 
aught of her birth. She is the same now as then j 
should I love her the less ? If anything hard or cruel 
is in her fate that love can soften, it shall be done. 
If any painful burdens have been thrown upon her 
life, I can carry, if not the whole, then a part of them. 
If I cannot put her into a safe shelter where no ill will 
befall her, I can at least take her into my arms and go 
with her through the world. It will be easier for us, I 
think, — I hope, — to face any fate if we are together. 
Ah, sir, do not prevent it ; do not deny me this happi- 
ness. Be my ambassador, since she will not let me 
speak for myself, and plead my own cause." 

In his earnestness he had come close to Mr. 
Ercildoune, putting out his one hand with a gesture 
of entreaty, with a tone in his voice, and a look in his 
face, irresistible to hear and behold. Ercildoune took 
the hand, and held it in a close, firm grasp. Some 
strong emotion shook him. The expression, a com- 
bination of sadness and scorn, which commonly held 
possession of his eyes, went out of them, leaving them 
radiant. "No," he said, "I will say nothing for you. 
I would not for worlds spoil your plea ; prevent her 
8* L 



178 What Answer? 

hearing, from your own mouth, what you have to say. 
I will send her to you," — and, going to a door, gave 
the order to a servant, " Desire Miss Francesca to 
come to the parlor." Then, motioning Surrey to the 
room, he went away, buried in thought. 

Standing in the parlor, for he was too restless to sit, 
he tried to plan how he should meet her ; to think 
of a sentence which at the outset should disarm her 
indignation at being thus thrust upon him, and convey 
in some measure the thought of which his heart was 
full, without trespassing on her reserve, or telling her 
of the letter which he had read. Then another fear 
seized him ; it was two years since he had written, — 
two years since that painful and terrible scene had 
been enacted in the very room where he stood, — two 
years since she had confessed by deed and look that 
she loved him. Might she not have changed ? mi^ht 
she not have struggled for the mastery of this feeling 
with only too certain success ? might she not have 
learned to regard him with esteem, perchance, — with 
friendship, — sentiment, — anything but that which he 
desired or would claim at her hands ? Silence and 
absence and time are pitiless destructives. Might 
they not ? aye, might they not ? He paced to and 
fro, with quick, restless tread, at the thought. All his 
love and his longing cried out against such a cruel 
supposition. He stopped by the side of the bookcase 



What Answer? 179 

against which she had fallen in that merciless and suf- 
fering struggle, and put his hand down on the little 
projection, which he knew had once cut and wounded 
her, with a strong, passionate clasp, as though it were 
herself he held. Just then he heard a step, — her 
step, yet how unlike ! — coming down the stairs. 
Where he stood he could see her as she crossed the 
hall, coming unconsciously to meet him. All the 
brightness and airy grace seemed to have been drawn 
quite out of her. The alert, slender figure drooped as 
if it carried some palpable weight, and moved with a 
step slow and unsteady as that of sickness or age. 
Her face was pathetic in its sad pallor, and blue, sor- 
rowful circles were drawn under the deep eyes, heavy 
and dim with the shedding of unnumbered tears. It 
almost broke his heart to look at her. A feeling, piti- 
ful as a mother would have for her suffering baby, took 
possession of his soul, — a longing to shield and pro- 
tect her. Tears blinded him ; a great sob swelled in 
his throat ; he made a step forward as she came into 
the room. " Papa," she said, without looking up, 
" you wanted me ? " There was no response. " Pa- 
pa ! " In an instant an arm enfolded her ; a pres- 
ence, tender and strong, bent above her ; a voice, 
husky with crowding emotions, yet sweet with all the 
sweetness of love, breathed, " My darling ! my dar- 
ling ! " as his fair, sunny hair swept her face. 



i8o What Answer f 

Even then she remembered another scene, remem- 
bered her promise ; even then she thought of him, 
of his future, and struggled to release herself from 
his embrace. 

What did he say ? what could he say ? Where were 
the arguments he had planned, the entreaties he had 
purposed ? where the words with which he was to tell 
his tale, combat her refusal, win her to a willing and 
happy assent ? All gone. 

There was nothing but his heart and its caresses to 
speak for him. Silent, with the ineffable stillness 
he kissed her eyes, her mouth, held her to his breast 
with a passionate fondness, — a tender, yet masterful 
hold, which said, " Nothing shall separate us now." 
She felt it, recognized it, yielded without power to 
longer contend, clasped her arms about his neck, met 
his eyes, and dropped her face upon his heart with a 
long, tremulous sigh which confessed that heaven was 
won. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

"The golden hours, on angel wings, 
Flew o'er me and my dearie." 

Burns. 

THE evening that followed was of the brightest 
and happiest ; even the adieus spoken to the 
soldier who was just leaving his home did not sadden 
it. They were in such a state of exaltation as to see 
everything with courageous and hopeful eyes, and sent 
Robert off with the feeling that all these horrible real- 
ities they had known so long were but bogies to fright- 
en foolish children, and that he would come back to 
them wearing, at the very least, the stars of a major- 
general. Whatever sombre and painful thoughts filled 
Ercildoune's heart he held there, that no gloom might 
fall from him upon these fresh young lives, nor sadden 
the cheery expectancy of his son. 

Surrey, having carried the first line of defence, pre- 
pared for a vigorous assault upon the second. Like all 
eager lovers, his primary anxiety was to hear " Yes " ; 
afterwards, the day. To that end he was pleading 
with every resource that love and impatience could 
lend ; but Francesca shook her head, and smiled, and 
said that was a long way off, — that was not to be 



1 82 What Answer? 

thought of, at least till the war was over, and her sol- 
dier safe at home ; but he insisted that this was the 
flimsiest and poorest of excuses ; nay, that it was 
the very reverse of the true and sensible idea, which 
was of course wholly on his side. He had these few 
weeks at home, and then must away once more to 
chances of battle and death. He did not say this till 
he had exhausted every other entreaty ; but at last, 
gathering her close to him with his one loving arm, — 
" how fortunate," he had before said, " that it is the 
left arm, because if it were the other I could not hold 
you so near my heart ! " — so holding her, he glanced 
down at the empty sleeve, and whispered, " My 
darling ! who knows ? I have been wounded so often, 
and am now only a piece of a fellow to come to you. 
It may be something more next time, and then I shall 
never call you wife. It would make no difference 
hereafter, I know : we belong to each other for time 
and eternity. But then I should like to feel that we 
were something more to one another than even be- 
trothed lovers, before the end comes, if come it does, 
untimely. Be generous, dearie, and say yes." 

He did not give utterance to another fear, which 
was that by some device she might again be taken 
away from him ; that some cruel plan might be put in 
execution to separate them once more. He would not 
take the risk ; he would bind her to him so securely 



What Answer? 183 

that no device, however cunning, — no plan, however 
hard and shrewd, — could again divide them. 

She hesitated long ; was long entreated ; but the 
result was sure, since her own heart seconded every 
prayer he uttered. At last she consented ; but insisted 
that he should go home at once, see the mother and 
father who were waiting for him with such anxious 
hearts, give to them — as was their due — at least a 
part of the time, and then, when her hasty bride-prep- 
arations were made, come back and take her wholly 
to himself. Thus it was arranged, and he left her. 

Into the mysteries which followed — the mysteries 
of hemming and stitching, of tucking and trimming, 
ruffling, embroidering, of all the hurry and delicious 
confusion of an elegant yet hasty bridal trousseau — 
let us not attempt to investigate. 

Doubtless through those days, through this sweet 
and happy whirl of emotion, Francesca had many anx- 
ious and painful hours : hours in which she looked at 
the future — for him more than for herself — with sor- 
rowful anticipations and forebodings. But with each 
evening came a letter, written in the morning by his 
dear hand ; a letter so full of happy, hopeful love, 
of resolute, manly spirit, that her cares and anxieties 
all* took flight, and were but as a tale that is told, or as 
a dream of darkness when the sun shines upon a 
blessed reality. 



1 84 What Answer? 

He wrote her that he had told his parents of his 
wishes and plans ; and that, as he had known before, 
they were opposed, and opposed most bitterly ; but 
he was sure that time would soften, and knowledge de- 
stroy this prejudice utterly. He wrote as he believed. 
They were so fond of him, so devoted to him who was 
their only child, that he was assured they would not 
and could not cast him off, nor hate that which he 
loved. He. did not know that his father, who had 
never before been guilty of a base action, — his 
mother, who was fine to daintiness, — - were both so 
warped by this senseless and cruel feeling — having 
seen Francesca and known all her beautiful and noble 
elements of personal character — as to have written 
her a letter which only a losel should have penned and 
an outcast read. She did not tell him. Being satisfied 
that they two belonged to one another ; that if they 
were separated it would be as the tearing asunder of a 
perfect whole, leaving the parts rent and bleeding, — 
she would not listen to any voice that attempted, nor 
heed any hand that strove to drive an entering wedge, 
or to divide them. Why, then, should she trouble him 
by the knowledge that this effort had again been made, 
and by those he trusted and honored. Let it pass. 
The future must decide what the future must be , 
meanwhile, they were to live in a happy present. 

He learned of it, however, before he left his home. 



What Answer? 185 

Finding that neither persuasions, threats, nor prayers 
could move him, — that he would be true to honor and 
love, — they told him of what they had done; laid 
bare the whole intensity of their feeling ; and putting 
her on the one side, placing themselves on the other, 
said, "Choose, — this wife, or those who have loved 
you for a lifetime. Cleave to her, and your father 
disowns you, your mother renounces, your home shuts 
its doors upon you, never to open. With the world 
and its judgment we have nothing to do ; that is be- 
tween it and you; but no judgment of indifferent 
strangers shall be more severe than ours." 

A painful position ; a cruel alternative ; but not for 
an instant did he hesitate. Taking the two hands of 
father and mother into his solitary one, he said, — 
" Father, I have always found you a gentleman ; 
mother, you have shown all the graces of the Christian 
character which you profess ; yet in this you are sup- 
porting the most dishonorable sentiment, the most 
infidel unbelief, with which the age is shamed. You 
are defying the dictates of justice and the teachings of 
God. When you ask me to rank myself on your side, 
I cannot do it. Were my heart less wholly enlisted in 
this matter, my reason and sense of right would rebel. 
Here, then, for the present at least, we must say fare- 
well." And so, with many a heart-ache and many a 
pang, he went away. 



1 86 What Answer? 

As true love always grows with passing time, so his 
increased with the days, and intensified by the- cruel 
heat which was poured upon it. He realized the 
torture to which, in a thousand ways, this darling of 
his heart had for a lifetime been subjected ; and his 
tenderness and love — in which was an element of 
indignation and pathos — deepened with every fresh 
revelation of the passing hours. When he came back 
to her he had few words to speak, and no airy grace 
of sentence or caress to bestow ; he followed her about 
in a curious, shadow-like way, with such a strain on 
his heart as made him many a time lift his hand to it, 
as if to check physical pain. For her, she was as one 
who had found a beloved master, able and willing to 
lighten all her burdens ; a physician, whose slightest 
touch brought balm and healing to every aching 
wound. And so these two when the time came, spite 
of the absence of friends who should have been there, 
spite of warnings and denunciations and evil prophe- 
cies, stood up and said to those who listened what 
their hearts had long before confessed, that they were 
one for time and eternity; then, hand in hand, went 
out into the world. 

For the present it was a pleasant enough world to 
them. Surrey had a lovely little place on the Hudson 
to which he would carry her, and pleased himself by 
fitting it up with every convenience and beauty that 
taste could devise and wealth supply. 



What Answer? 187 

How happy they were there ! To be sure, nobody 
came to see them, but then they wished to see nobody ; 
so every one was well satisfied. The delicious lovers' 
life of two years before was renewed, but with how 
much richer and deeper delights and blissfulness ! 
They galloped on many a pleasant morning across 
miles and miles of country, down rocky slopes, and 
through wild and romantic glens. They drove lazily, 
on summer noons, through leafy fastnesses and cool 
forest paths ; or sat idly by some little stream on the 
fresh, green moss, with a line dancing on the crystal 
water, amusing themselves by the fiction that it was 
fishing upon which they were intent, and not the dear 
delight of watching one another's faces reflected from 
the placid stream. They spent hours at home, read- 
ing bits of poems, or singing scraps of love-songs, talk- 
ing a little, and then falling away into silence ; or she 
sat perched on his knee or the elbow of his chair, 
smoothing his sunny hair, stroking his long, silky 
mustache, or looking into his answering eyes, till the 
world lapsed quite away from them, and they thought 
themselves in heaven. 

An idle, happy time ! a time to make a worker sigh 
only to behold, and a Benthamite lift his hands in dep- 
recation and despair. A time which would not last, 
because it could not, any more than apple-blossoms 
and May flowers, but which was sweet and fragrant 
past all describing while it endured. 



1 88 What Answer? 

Some kindly disposed person sent Surrey a city pa- 
per with an item marked in such wise as to make him 
understand its unpleasant import without the reading. 
" Come," he said, " we will have none of this ; this owl 
does not belong to our sunshine," — and so destroyed 
and forgot it. Others, however, saw that which he 
scorned to read. He had not been into the city since 
he called at his father's house, and walked into the re- 
ception room of his aunt, and been refused interview 
or speech at either place. " Very well," he thought, 
" I will go from this painful inhospitality and coldness 
to my Paradise ; " and he went, and remained. 

The only letter he wrote was to his old friend and 
favorite cousin, Tom Russell, — who was away some- 
where in the far South, and from whom he had not 
heard for many a day, — and hoped that he, at least, 
would not disappoint him • would not disappoint the 
hearty trust he had in his breadth of nature and manly 
sensibility. 

And so, with clouds doubtless in the sky, but which 
they did not see, —* the sun shone so bright for them ; 
and some discords in the minor keys which they did 
not heed, — the major music was so sweet and intoxi- 
cating, — the brief, glad hours wore away, and the time 
for parting, with hasty steps, had almost reached and 
faced them. Meanwhile, what was occurring to oth- 
ers, in other scenes and among other surroundings ? 



CHAPTER XV. 

" There are some deeds so grand 
That their mighty doers stand 

Ennobled, in a moment, more than kings." 

Boker. 

IT was towards the evening of a blazing July day on 
Morris Island. The mail had just come in and 
been distributed. Jim, with some papers and a pre- 
cious missive from Sallie in one hand, his supper in 
the other, betook himself to a cool spot by the river, — 
if, indeed, any spot could be called cool in that fiery 
sand, — and proceeded to devour the letter with won- 
derful avidity while the " grub," properly enough, stood 
unnoticed and uncared for. Presently he stopped, 
rubbed his eyes, and re-read a paragraph in the epistle 
before him, then re-rubbed, and read it again ; and 
then, laying it down, gave utterance to a long whistle, 
expressive of unbounded astonishment, if not incre- 
dulity. 

The whistle was answered by its counterpart, and 
Jim, looking up, beheld his captain, — Coolidge by 
name, — a fast, bright New York boy, standing at a 
little distance, and staring with amazed eyes at a paper 
he held in his hands. Glancing from this to Jim, en- 
countering his look, he burst out laughing and came 
towards him. 



190 What Answer? 

" Helloa, Given ! " he called : Jim was a favorite 
with him, as indeed with pretty much every one with 
whom he came in contact, officers and men, — " you, 
too, seem put out. I wonder if you 've read anything 
as queer as that," handing him the paper and striking 
his finger down on an item; "read it." Jim read : — 

" Miscegenation. Disgraceful Freak in High 
Life. Fruit of an Abolition War. — We are cred- 
ibly informed that a young man belonging to one of the 
first families in the city, Mr. W. A. S., — we spare his 
name for the sake of his relatives, — who has been en- 
gaged since its outset in this fratricidal war, has just 
given evidence of its legitimate effect by taking to his 
bosom a nigger wench as his wife. Of course he is 
disowned by his family, and spurned by his friends, 
even radical fanaticism not being yet ready for such 
a dose as this. However — " Jim did not finish the 
homily of which this was the presage, but, throwing 
the paper on the ground, indignantly drove his heel 
through it, tearing and soiling it, and then viciously 
kicked it into the river. 

Said the Captain when this operation was completed, 
having watched it with curious eyes, " Well, my man, 
are you aware of the fact that that is ??iy paper ? " 

" Don't care if it is. What in thunder did you bring 
the damned Copperhead sheet to me for, if you did n't 
want it smashed? Ain't you ashamed of yourself hav- 



What Answer f 191 

ing such a thing round ? How 'd you feel if you were 
picked up dead by a reb, with that stuff in your pock- 
et ? Say now!" 

Coolidge laughed, — he was always ready to laugh : 
that was probably why the men liked him so well, and 
stood in awe of him not a bit. " Feel ? horridly, of 
course. Bad enough, being dead, to yet speak, and 
tell 'em that paper did n't represent my politics : 'd 
that do ? " 

Jim shook his head dubiously. 

" What are you making such a devil of a row for, I'd 
like to know ? it 's too hot to get excited. 'Tain't 
likely you know anything about Willie Surrey." 

"Oho! it is Mr. Will, then, is it ? Know him, — 
don't I, though ? Like a book. Known him ever since 
he was knee-height of a grasshopper. I'd like to have 
that fellow " — shaking his fist toward the floating 
paper — " within arm's reach. Would n't I pummel 
him some ? O no, of course not, — not at all. Only, 
if he wants a sound skin, I'd advise him, as a friend, to 
be scarce when I'm round, because it 'd very likely be 
damaged." 

" You think it 's all a Copperhead lie, then ! I 
should have thought so, at first, only I know Surrey 's 
capable of doing any Quixotic thing if he once gets 
his mind fixed on it." 

"I know what I know," Jim answered, slowly fold- 



192 What Answer? 

ing and unfolding Sallie's letter, which he still held in 
his hand. "I know all about that young lady he 's 
been marrying. She 's young, and she 's handsome — 
handsome as a picture — and rich, and as good as an 
angel ; that 's about what she is, if Sallie Howard and 
I know B from a bull's foot." 

" Who is Sallie Howard ? " queried the Captain. 

" She ?. O," — very red in the face, — " she 's a friend 
of mine, and she 's Miss Ercildoune's seamstress." 

" Ercildoune ? good name ! Is she the lady upon 
whom Surrey has been bestowing his — ?" 

" Yes, she is ; and here *s her photograph. Sallie 
begged it of her, and sent it to me, once after she had 
done a kind thing by both of us. Looks like a ' nigger 
wench,' don't she ?'' 

The Captain seized the picture, and, having once 
fastened his eyes upon it, seemed incapable of remov- 
ing them. "This? this her?" he cried. "Great 
Cresar ! I should think Surrey would have the fellow 
out at twenty paces in no time. Heavens, what a 
beauty ! " 

Jim grinned sardonically : " She is rather pretty, 
now, — ain't she ? " 

"Pretty! ugh, what an expression ! pretty, indeed ! 
I never saw anything so beautiful. But what a sad 
face it is ! " 

" Sad ! well, 't ain't much wonder. I guess her life 's 



What Answer? 193 

been sad enough, in spite of her youth, and her beauty, 
and her riches, and all the rest." 

" Why, how should that be ? " 

" Suppose you take another squint at that face." 

"Well." 

" See anything peculiar about it ? " 

" Nothing except its beauty." 

" Not about the eyes ? " 

" No, — only I believe it is they that make the face 
so sorrowful." 

" Very like. You generally see just such big mourn- 
ful-looking eyes in the faces of people that are called 
— octoroons." 

"What? " cried the Captain, dropping the picture in 
his surprise. 

" Just so, " Jim answered, picking it up and dust- 
ing it carefully before restoring it to its place in his 
pocket-book. 

" So, then, it is part true, after all." 

" True ! " exclaimed Jim, angrily, — " don't make 
an ass of yourself, Captain." 

" Why, Given, did n't you say yourself that she was 
an octoroon, or some such thing ? " 

" Suppose I did, — what then ? " 

" I should say, then, that Surrey has disgraced him- 
self forever. He has not only outraged his family 
and his friends, and scandalized society, but he has 

9 M 



194 What Answer? 

run against nature itself. It 's very plain God Al- 
mighty never intended the two races to come to- 
gether." 

" O, he did n't, hey ? Had a special despatch from 
him, that you know all about it? I 've heard just 
such. talk before from people who seemed to be pretty 
well posted about his intentions, — in this particular 
matter, — though I generally noticed they were n't 
chaps who were very intimate with him in any other 
way." 

The Captain laughed. "Thank you, Jim, for the 
compliment ; but come, you are n't going to say that 
nature has n't placed a barrier between these people 
and us ? an instinct that repels an Anglo-Saxon from 
a negro always and everywhere ? " 

" Ho, ho ! that's good ! why, Captain, if you keep 
on, you '11 make me talk myself into a regular aboli- 
tionist. Instinct, hey ? I'd like to know, then, where 
all the mulattoes, and the quadroons, and the octoroons 
come from, — the yellow-skins and brown-skins and 
skins so nigh white you can't tell 'em with your specta- 
cles on ! The darkies must have bleached out amaz- 
ingly here in America, for you 'd have to hunt with a 
long pole and a telescope to boot to find a straight-out 
black one anywhere round, — leastwise that's my ob- 
servation." 

" That was slavery." 



What Answer? 195 

" Yes 't was, — and then the damned rascals talk 
about the amalgamationists, and all that, up North. 
' T wan't the abolitionists ; 't was the slaveholders and 
their friends that made a race of half-breeds all over 
the country ; but, slavery or no slavery, they showed 
nature had n't put any barriers between them, — and it 
seems to me an enough sight decenter and more re- 
spectable plan to marry fair and square than to sell your 
own children and the mother that bore them. Come, 
now, ain't it ? " 

" Well, yes, if you come to that, I suppose it is." 

" You suppose it is ! See here, — I 've found out 
something since I 've been down here, and have 
had time to think ; 't ain't the living together that 
troubles squeamish stomachs ; it 's the marrying. 
That 's what 's the matter ! " 

" Just about ! " assented the Captain, with an amused 
look, " and here 's a case in point. Surrey ought to 
have been shot for marrying one of that degraded 
race." 

" Bah ! he married one of his own race, if I know 
how to calculate." 

" There, Jim, don't be a fool ! If she 's got any 
negro blood in her veins she 's a nigger, and all your 
talk won't make her anything else." 

" I say, Captain, I 've heard that some of your an- 
cestors were Indians : is that so ? " 



196 What Answer? 

" Yes : my great-grandmother was an Indian chiefs 
daughter, — so they say ; and you might as well claim 
royalty when you have the chance." 

" Bless me ! your great-grandmother, eh ? Come, 
now, what do you call yourself, — an Injun ? " 

"No, I don't. I call myself an Anglo-Saxon." 

"What, not call yourself an Injun, — when your 
great-grandmother was one ? Here 's a pretty go ! " 

" Nonsense ! 'tis n't likely that filtered Indian blood 
can take precedence and mastery of all the Anglo- 
Saxon material it 's run through since then." 

" Hurray ! now you Ve said it. Lookee here, Cap- 
tain. You say the Anglo-Saxon \s the master race of 
the world." 

" Of course I do." 

" Of course you do, — being a sensible fellow. So 
do I ; and you say the negro blood is mighty poor 
stuff, and the race a long way behind ours." 

" Of course, again." 

" Now, Captain, just take a sober squint at your own 
logic. You back Anglo-Saxon against the field ; very 
well ! here 's Miss Ercildoune, we '11 say, one eighth 
negro, seven eighths Anglo-Saxon. You make that 
one eighth stronger than all the other seven eighths : 
you make that little bit of negro master of all the 
lot of Anglo-Saxon. Now I have such a good opinion 
of my own race that if it were t' other way about, I 'd 



What Answer? 197 

think the one eighth Saxon strong enough to beat the 
seven eighths nigger. That 's sound, is n't it ? conse- 
quently, I call anybody that 's got any mixture at all, 
and that knows anything, and keeps a clean face, — 
and ain't a rebel, nor yet a Copperhead, — I call him, 
if it 's a him, and her, if it 's a she, one of us. And I 
mean to say to any such from henceforth, ' Here 's your 
chance, — go in, and win, if you can, — and anybody 
be damn'd that stops you ! ' " 

" Blow away, Jim," laughed the Captain, " I like to 
hear you ; and it 's good talk if you don't mean it." 

" I '11 be blamed if I don't." 

" Come, you 're talking now, — you 're saying a lot 
more than you '11 live up to, — you know that as well 
as I. People always do when they 're gassing." 

" Well, blow or no blow, it 's truth, whether I live 
up to it or not." And he, evidently with not all the 
steam worked off, began to gather sticks and build a 
fire to fry his bit of pork and warm the cold coffee. 

Just then they heard the plash of oars keeping time 
to the cadence of a plantation hymn, which came float- 
ing solemn and clear through the night : — 

" My brudder sittin' on de tree ob life, 
An' he yearde when Jordan roll. 
Roll Jordan, roll Jordan, roll Jordan, roll, 
Roll Jordan, roll ! " 

They both paused to listen as the refrain was again 
and again repeated. 



198 What Answer f 

" There 's nigger for you," broke out Jim, " what 'n 
thunder 'd they mean by such gibberish as that ? " 

The Captain laughed. " Come, Given, don't quarrel 
with what 's above your comprehension. Doubtless 
there 's a spiritual meaning hidden away somewhere, 
which your unsanctified ears can't interpret." 

" Spiritual fiddlestick ! " 

"Worse and worse ! what a heathen you 're demon- 
strating yourself! Violins are no part of the heavenly 
chorus." 

" Much you know about it ! Hark, — they 're at it 
again" • and again the voices and break of oars came 
through the night : — 

" O march, de angel march ! O march, de angel march ! 
O my soul arise in heaven, Lord, for to yearde when Jordan 
roll! 

Roll Jordan, roll Jordan, roll Jordan, roll." 

" Well, I confess that 's a little bit above my com- 
prehension, — that is. Spiritual or something else. 
Lazy vermin ! they '11 paddle round in them boats, or 
lie about in the sun, and hoot all day and all night 
about ' de good Lord ' and ' de day ob jubilee,' — and 
think God Almighty is going to interfere in their spe- 
cial behalf, and do big things for them generally." 

" It 's a feet ; they do all seem to be waiting for 
something." 

" Well, I reckon they need n't wait any longer. The 



What Answer? 199 

day of miracles is gone by, for such as them, anyway. 
They ain't worth the salt that feeds them, so far as I 
can discover." 

Through the wash of the waters they could hear 
from the voices, as they sang, that their possessors 
were evidently drawing nearer. 

" Sense or not," said the Captain, " I never listen to 
them without a queer feeling. What they sing is gen- 
erally ridiculous enough, but their voices are the most 
pathetic things in the world." " 

Here the hymn stopped ; a boat was pulled up, and 
presently they saw two men coming from the sands 
and into the light of their fire, — ragged, dirty ; one 
shabby old garment — a pair of tow pantaloons — on 
each ; bareheaded, barefooted, — great, clumsy feet, 
stupid and heavy-looking heads ; slouching walk, 
stooping shoulders ■ something eager yet deprecating 
in their black faces. 

" Look at 'em, Captain ; now you just take a fair 
look at 'em ; and then say that Mr. Surrey's wife be- 
longs to the same family, — own kith and kin, — you 
ca- a -n't do it." 

" Faugh ! for heaven's sake, shut up ! of course, 
when it comes to this, I can't say anything of the kind." 

"'NufF said. You see, I believe in Mr. Surrey, 
and what 's more, I believe in Miss Ercildoune, — have 
reason to ; and when I hear anybody mixing her up 



200 What Answer? 

with these onry, good-for-nothing niggers, it 's more 'n 
I can stand, so don't let 's have any more of it " ; 
and turning with an air which said that subject was 
ended, Jim took up his forgotten coffee, pulled apart 
some brands and put the big tin cup on the coals, and 
then bent over it absorbed, sniffing the savory steam 
which presently came up from it. Meanwhile the two 
men were • skulking about among the trees, watching, 
yet not coming near, — " at their usual work of wait- 
ing," as the Captain said. 

" Proper enough, too, let 'em wait. Waiting 's their 
business. Now," taking off his tin and looking to- 
wards them, " what d 'ye s'pose those anemiles want ? 
Pity the boat had n't tipped over before they got here. 
Camp's overrun now with just such scoots. Here, 
you ! " he called. 

The men came near. " Where 'd you come from ?" 

One of them pointed back to the boat, seen dimly 
on the sand. 

" Was that you howling a while ago, ' Roll Jordan,' 
or something ? " 

" Yes, massa." 

" And where did you come from ? — no, you need n't 
look back there again, — I mean, where did you and 
the boat too come from ? " 

" Come from Mass' George Wingate's place, massa." 

" Far from here ? " 



What Answer? 201 

" Big way, massa." 

11 What brought you here ? what did you come for?" 

" If you please, massa, 'cause the Linkum sojer's was 
yere, an' de big guns, an' we yearde dat all our peo- 
ple 's free when dey gets yere." 

" Free ! what '11 such fellows as you do with free- 
dom, hey ? " 

The two looked at their interrogator, then at one 
another, opened their mouths as to speak, and shut 
them hopelessly, — unable to put into words that which 
was struggling in their darkened brains, — and then 
with a laugh, a laugh that sounded wofully like a sob, 
answered, " Dunno, massa." 

"What fools!" cried Jim, angrily; but the Cap- 
tain, who was watching them keenly, thought of a line 
he had once read, " There is a laughter sadder than 
tears." "True enough, — poor devils !" he added to 
himself. 

" Are you hungry ? " Jim proceeded. 

" I hope massa don't think we's come yere for to git 
suthin' to eat," said the smaller of the two, a little, thin, 
haggard-looking fellow, — " we 's no beggars. Some ob 
de darkies is, but we 's not dem kind, — Jim an' me, — 
we's willin' to work, ain't we, Jim ? " 

" Jim ! " soliloquized Given, — " my name, hey ? 
we '11 take a squint at this fellow." 

The squint showed two impoverished-looking wretch- 
9* 



202 What Answer? 

es, with a starved look in their eyes, which he did not 
comprehend, and a starved look in their faces and 
forms, which he did. 

" Come, now, are you hungry ? " he queried once 
more. 

'V-If ye please, massa," began the little one who was 
spokesman, — ' little folks always are gas-bags,' Jim 
was fond of saying from his six feet of height, — " if ye 
please, massa, we 's had nothin' to eat but berries an' 
roots an' sich like truck for long while." 

" Well, why the devil have n't you had something 
else then ? what 've you been doing with yourselves for 
' long while ' ? what d'ye mean, coming here starved 
to death, making a fellow sick to look at you ? Hold 
your gab, and eat up that pork," pushing over his tin 
plate, " 'n' that bread," sending it after, " 'n' that hard 
tack, — 't ai'n't very good, but it 's better 'n roots, I 
reckon, or berries either, — 'n' gobble up that coffee, 
double-quick, mind ; and don't you open your heads to 
talk till that grub 's gone, slick and clean. Ugh ! " he 
said to the Captain, — " sight o' them fellows just took 
my appetite away ; could n't eat to save my soul ; 
lucky they came to devour the rations ; pity to throw 
them away." The Captain smiled, — he knew Jim. 
"Poor cusses!" he added presently, "eat like canni- 
bals, don't they ? hope they enjoy it. Had enough ?" 
seeing they had devoured everything put before them. 



What Answi 203 

" Thankee, massa, Yes. mass?.. Bery kind, massa. 
Had quite 'nua 

"Veil, now, you, sir ! ' 7 looking at the little one, — 
" by the way, what 's your name ? 

•■ Bijah, if ye please, massa 

" 'Bijah ? ^/bijah, hey ? well, I don't please ; how- 
ever, it s none of my name. Well, 'Bijah, how came 
you two to be looking like a couple of animated skele- 
tons ? that *s the next question." 

" \ es. massa.' 3 

" I say. how came you to be starved ? Hai'nt they 
nothing but roots and berries up your way? Mass- 
George Wingate must have a jolly time, feasting, in 
that case. Come, what "s your story ? Out with the 
whole pack of lies at once. 

"I hope massa thinks we wouldn't tell nuffin but 
de txiuy' said Jim, who had not before spoken save to 
say, "Thankee." — "'cause if he don't bleeve us, ain't 
no use in talkin'." 

•■ You shut up ! I ain't conversing with you, raw- 
bones ! Speak when you "re spoken to ! Come, 'Bi- 
jah, fire away.'' 

"Bay good, massa. Ye see I'se Mass' George 
' gate's boy. Mass' George he lives in de back 
country, good long way from de coast. — over a hun- 
dred miles, Jim calklates. — an" Jim 's smart at cal- 
klating ; well, Mass' George he 's not berry good to 



204 What Answer? 

his people ; never was, an' he 's been wuss 'n ever 
since the Linkum sojers cum round his way, 'cause it 's 
made feed scurce ye see, an' a lot of de boys dey 
tuck to runnin' away, — so what wid one ting an' an- 
oder, his temper got spiled, an' he was mighty hard on 
us all de time. 

"At las' I got tired of bein' cuffed an' knocked 
round, an' den I yearde dat if our people, any of dem, 
got to de Fedral lines dey was free, so I said, ' Cum, 
'Bijah, — freedom 's wuth tryin' for'; an' one dark 
night I did up some hoe-cake an' a piece of pork an' 
started. I trabbeled hard 's I could all night, — 'bout 
fifteen mile, I reckon, — an' den as 't was gittin' toward 
mornin' I hid away in a swamp. Ye see I felt drefful 
bad, for I could year way off, but plain enuff, de bayin' 
of de hounds, an' I knew dat de men an' de guns an' 
de dogs was all after me ; but de day passed an' dey 
did n't come. So de next night I started off agen, an' 
run an' walked hard all night, an' towards mornin' I 
went up to a little house standen off from de road, 
thinking it was a nigger house, an' jest as I got up to 
it out walked a white woman scarin' me awfully, an' 
de fust ting she axed me was what I wanted." 

" Tight shave ! " interrupted Jim, — " what d' ye do 
then ? " 

" Well, massa, ye see I saw mighty quick I was in 
for a lie anyhow, so I said, ' Is massa at home ? ' 'Yes,' 



What Answer? 205 

says she, — an' sure nuff, he cum right out. ' Hello, 
nigger ! ' he said when he seed me, ' whar you cum from? 
so I tells him from Pocotaligo, an' before he could ax 
any more queshuns, I went on an' tole him we cotched 
fifty Yankees down dere yesterday, an' massa he was so 
tickled dat he let me go to Barnwells to see my family, 
an' den I said I 'd got off de track an' was dead beat 
an' drefful hungry, an' would he please to sell me 
suthin to eat. At dat de woman streaked right into 
de house, an' got me some bread an' meat, an' tole me 
to eat it up an' not talk about payin', — ' we don't 
charge good, faithful niggers nothin',' she said, — so I 
thanked her an' eat it all up, an' den, when de man had 
tole me how to go, I went right long till I got out ob 
sight ob de little house, an' den I got into de woods, 
an' turned right round de oder way an' made tracks 
fast as I could in dat direcshun." 

" Ho ! ho ! you 're about what I call a 'cute nigger," 
laughed Jim. " Come, go on, — this gets interesting." 

" Well, directly I yearde de dogs. Dere was a pond 
little way off; so I tuck to it, an' waded out till I could 
just touch my toes an' keep my nose above water so 's 
to breathe. Presently dey all cum down, an' I yearde 
Mass' George say, ' I '11 hunt dat nigger till I find him 
if takes a month. I'se goin' to make a zample of 
him,' — so I shook some at dat, for I know 'd what 
Mass' George's zamples was. Arter while one ob de 



206 What Answer? 

men says, l He ain't yere, — he 'd shown hisself before 
dis, if he was,' an' I spose I would, for I was pretty 
nearly choked, only I said to myself when I went in, 
' I '11 go to de bottom before I '11 come up to be 
tuck,' so I jest held on by my toes an' waited. 

" I did n't dare to cum out when dey rode away to 
try a new scent, an' when I did I jest skulked round 
de edge ob de pond, ready to take to it agen if I 
yearde dem, an' when night cum I started off an' run 
an' walked agen hard 's I could, an' den at day-dawn 
I tuck to anoder pond, an' went on a log dat was 
stickin' in de water, and broke down some rushes an' 
bushes enuf to lie down on an' cover me up, an' den 
I slept all day, for I was drefful tired an' most starved 
too. Next evenin' when it got dark, I went on agen, 
an' trabblin through de woods I seed a little light, an' 
sartin dis time dat it was a darkey's cabin, I made for 
it, an' it was. It was his'n," — pointing to the big fellow 
who stood beside him, and who nodded his head in 
assent. 

" I had a palaver before he 'd let me in, but when I 
was in I seed what de matter was. He had a sojer 
dere, a Linkum sojer, bad wounded, what he 'd found 
in de woods, — he was a runaway hisself, ye see, like 
■me, — an' he 'd tuck him to dis ole cabin an 'd been 
nussin him up for good while. When I seed dat I felt 
drefful bad, for I knowed dey was a huntin for me yet, 



What Answer? 207 

an' I tought if de dogs got on de trail dey 'd get to dis 
cabin, sure : an' den dey 'd both be tuck. So I up 
an' tole dem, an' de sojer he says, ' Come, Jim, you 've 
done quite enuff fur me, my boy. If you 're in dan- 
ger now, be off with you fast as you can, — an' God 
reward you, for I never can, for all you 've done for 
me.' 

" ' No,' says Jim, ' Capen, ye need n't talk in dat 
way, for I'se not goin to budge widout you. You got 
wounded fur me an' my people, an' now I '11 stick by 
you an' face any thing fur you if it 's Death hisself ! ' 
That 's just what Jim said ; an' de sojer he put his 
hand up to his face, an' I seed it tremble bad, — he was 
weak, you see, — an' some big tears cum out troo his 
fingers onto de back ob it. 

" Den Jim says, ' Dis is n't a safe place for any on 
us, an' we '11 have to take to our heels agen, an' so de 
sooner we 's off de better.' So he did up some vittels, 
— all he had dere, — an' gave 'em to me to tote, — an' 
den before de Capen could sneeze he had him up on 
his back, an' we was off. 

" It was pretty hard work I kin tell you, strong as 
Jim was, an' we 'd have to stop an' rest putty ofen ; an' 
den, Jim an' I, we 'd tote him atween us on some 
boughs ; an' den we had to lie by, some days, all day, 
■ — an' we trabbled putty slow, cause we 'd lost our 
bearins an' was in a secesh country, we knowed, — an' 



20 8 What Answer? 

we had nuffin but berries an' sich to eat, an' got nigh 
starved. 

" One night we cum onto half a dozen fellows skulk- 
in' in de woods, an' at fust dey made fight, but 
d'rectly dey know'd we was friends, fur dey was some 
more Linkum sojers, an' dey 'd lost dere way, or 
ruther, dey know'd where dey was, but dey did n't 
know how to git way from dere. Dey was 'scaped 
pris'ners, dey told us ; when I yearde where 'twas I 
know'd de way to de coast, an' said I'd show 'em de 
way if dey'd cum long wid us, so dey did ; an' we got 
'long all right till we got to de ribber up by Mass' 
Rhett's place." 

"Yes, I know where it is," said the Captain. 

" Den what to do was de puzzle. De country was 
all full ob secesh pickets, an' dere was de ribber, an' 
we had no boat, — so Jim, he says, ' I know what to 
do ; fust I '11 hide you yere,' an' he did all safe in de 
woods ; ' an' den I '11 git ye suthin to eat from de 
niggers round,' an' he did dat too, do he could n't git 
much, for fear he'd be seen; an' den we, he and I, 
made some ropes out ob de tall grass like dat we 'd 
ofen made fur mats , an' tied dem together wid some 
oder grass, an' stuck a board in, an' den made fur de 
Yankee camp, an' yere we is." 

" Yes," said the black man Jim, here, — breaking 
silence, — " we '11 show you de way back if you kin go 



What Answer? 209 

up in a boat dey can rest in, fur dey's most all clean 
done out, an' de capen's wound is awful bad yit" 

" This captain, — what 's his name ? " inquired 
Coolidge. 

" His name is here," said Jim, carefully drawing 
forth a paper from his rags, — " he has on dis some 
riggers an' a map of de country he took before he got 
wounded, an' some words he writ wid a bit of burnt 
stick just before we cum away, — an' he giv it to me, 
an' tole me to bring it to camp, fur fear something 
might happen to him while we was away." 

" My God ! " cried Coolidge when he had opened 
the paper, and with hasty eyes scanned its contents, 
" it 's Tom Russell ; I know him well. This must be 
sent up to head-quarters, and I '11 get an order, and a 
boat, and some men, to go for them at once." All of 
which was promptly done. 

" See here ! I speak to be one of the fellows what 
goes," Jim emphatically announced. 

" All right. I reckon we '11 both go, Given, if the 
General will let us, — and I think he will," — which 
was a safe guess, and a true one. The boat was soon 
ready and manned. 'Bijah, too weak to pull an oar, 
was left behind ; and Jim, really not fit to do aught 
save guide them, still insisted on taking his share of 
work. They found the place at last, and the men ; 
and taking them on board, — Russell having to be 



210 What Answer? 

moved slowly and carefully, — they began to pull for 
home. 

The tide was going out, and the river low : that, with 
the heavily laden boat, made their progress lingering ; 
a fact which distressed them all, as they knew the 
night to be almost spent, and that the shores were 
so lined with batteries, open and masked, and the 
country about so scoured by rebels, as to make it al- 
most sure death to them if they were not beyond the 
lines before the morning broke. 

The water was steadily- and perceptibly ebbing, — 
the rowing growing more and more insecure, — the 
danger becoming imminent. 

" Ease her off, there ! ease her off! " cried the Cap- 
tain, — as a harsh, gravelly sound smote on his ear, 
and at the same moment a shot whizzed past them, 
showing that they were discovered, — " ease her off, 
there ! or we 're stuck ! " 

The warning came too late, — indeed, could not have 
been obeyed, had it come earlier. The boat struck ; 
her bottom grating hard on the wet sand. 

" Great God ! she 's on a bar," cried Coolidge, 
"and the tide 's running out, fast." 

" Yes, and them damned rebs are safe enough from 
our fire," said one of the men. 

A few scattering shot fell about them. 

" They 're going to make their mark on us, anyway," 
put in another. 



What Answer ? 211 

" And we can't send 'em anything in return, blast 
'em ! " growled a third. 

"That 's the worst of it," broke out a fourth, "to 
be shot at like a rat in a hole." 

All said in a breath, and the balls by this time 
falling thick and. fast, — a fiery, awful rain of death. 
The men were no cowards, and the captain was brave 
enough ; but what could they do ? To stand up was but 
to make figure-heads at which the concealed enemy 
could fire with ghastly certainty ; to fire in return 
was to waste their ammunition in the air. The men 
flung themselves face foremost on the deck, silent and 
watchful. 

Through it all Jim had been sitting crouched over 
his oar. He, unarmed, could not have fought had the 
chance offered ; breaking out, once and again, into 
the solemn-sounding chant which he had been singing 
when he came up in his boat the evening before : — 

" O my soul arise in heaven, Lord, for to yearde when Jordan 
roll, 

Roll Jordan, roll Jordan, roll Jordan, roll," — 

the words falling in with the sound of the water as it 
lapsed from them. . 

" Stop that infernal noise, will you ?" cried one of 
the men, impatiently. The noise stopped. 

"Hush, Harry, — don't swear!" expostulated an- 
other, beside whom was lying a man mortally wound- 



212 What Answer? 

ed. " This is awful ! 't ain't like going in fair and 
square, on your chance." 

" That 's so, — it's enough to make a fellow pray," 
was the answer. 

Here Russell, putting up his hand, took hold of 
Jim's brawny black one with a gesture gentle as a 
woman's. It hurt him to hear his faithful friend even 
spoken to harshly. All this, while the hideous shower 
of death was dropping about them ; the water was 
ebbing, ebbing, — falling and running out fast to sea, 
leaving them higher and drier on the sands ; the gray 
dawn was steadily brightening into day. 

At this fearful pass a sublime scene was enacted. 
" Sirs ! " said a voice, — it was Jim's voice, and in it 
sounded something so earnest and strange, that the 
men involuntarily turned their heads to look at him. 
Then this man stood up, — a black man, — a little 
while before a slave, — the great muscles swollen and 
gnarled with unpaid toil, the marks of the lash and the 
branding-iron yet plain upon his person, the shadows 
of a life-time of wrongs and sufferings looking out of 
his eyes. "Sirs ! " he said, simply, "somebody's got 
to die to get us out of dis, and it may as well be me," 
— plunged overboard, put his toil-hardened shoulders 
to the boat ; a struggle, a gasp, a mighty wrench, — 
pushed it off clear ; then fell, face foremost, pierced by 
a dozen bullets. Free at last ! 



CHAPTER XVI. 

"Ye died to live." 

BOKER. 

' I ^HE next day Jim was recounting this scene to 
■*- some men in camp, describing it with feeling and 
earnestness, and winding up the narration by the dec- 
laration, " and the first man that says a nigger ain't as 
good as a white man, and a damn'd sight better 'n 
those graybacks over yonder, well " — 

" Well, suppose he does? " — interrupted one of the 
men. 

" O, nothing, Billy Dodge, — only he and I '11 have 
a few words to pass on the subject, that's all ;" doub- 
ling up his fist, and examining the big cords and mus- 
cles on it with curious and well-satisfied interest. 

" See here, Billy ! " put in one of his comrades, 
"don't you go to having any argument with Jim, — 
he 's a dabster with his tongue, Jim is." 

" Yes, and a devil with his fist," growled a sullen- 
looking fellow. 

"Just so," — assented Jim, — " when a blackguard 's 
round to feel it." 

" Well, Given, do you like the darkeys well enough 



214 What Answer? 

to take off your cap to them ? " queried a sergeant 
standing near. 

" What are you driving at now, hey ? " 

" O, not much ; but you '11 have to play second 
fiddle to them to-night. The General thinks they 're 
as good as the rest of us, and a little bit better, and 
has sent over for the Fifty-fourth to lead the charge 
this evening. What have you got to say to that ? " 

" Bully for them ! that 's what I 've got to say. Any 
objections? " looking round him. 

" Nary objec ! " " They deserve it ! " " They 
fought like tigers over on James Island ! " "I hope 
they '11 pepper the rebs well ! " — " It ought to be a 
free fight, and no quarter, with them ! " " Yes, for they 
get none if they 're taken ! " " Go in, Fifty-fourth ! " 
These and the like exclamations broke from the men 
on all sides, with absolute heartiness and good will. 

" It seems to me," sneered a dapper little officer 
who had been looking and listening, " that the niggers 
have plenty of advocates here." 

Two or three of the men looked at Jim. " You may 
bet your pile on that, Major ! " said he, with becoming 
gravity ; " we love our friends, and we hate our ene- 
mies, and it 's the dark-complected fellows that are the 
first down this way." 

" Pretty-looking set of friends ! " 

" Well, they ain't much to look at, that 's a fact ; 



}V/iat Answe 215 

but I never heard of anybody saying you was to turn a 
cold shoulder on a helper because he was homely, 
except," — this as the Major was walking away, " ex- 
cept a secesh, or a fool, or one of little 2s lac's staff 
officers. " 

"Homely? what are you gassing about?" objected 
a little fellow from Massachusetts ; '* the Fifty-fourth is 
as fine-looking a set of men as shoulder rifles anywhere 
in the army." 

" Jack ? s sensitive about the credit of his State," 
chaffed a big Ohioan. " He wants to crack up these 
fellows, seeing they're his comrades. I say, Johnny, 
are all the white men down your way such little shav- 
ers as vou ? " 

" For a fellow that 's ail legs and no brains, you talk 
too much," answered Johnny. " Have any of you seen 
the Fifty-fourth ? " 

"I haven't." "Nor I." '"'Yes, I saw them at 
Port Royal." " And I." " And I." 

" Well, the Twenty-third was at Beaufort while they 
were there, and I used to go over to their camp and 
talk with them. I never saw fellows so in earnest ; 
they seemed ready to die on the instant, if they could 
help their people, or walk into the slaveholders any, 
first. They were just full of it j and yet it seemed ab- 
surd to call 'em a black regiment ; they were pretty 
much all colors, and some of 'em as white as I am." 



2i6 What Answer? 

" Lord," said Jim, " that 's not saying much, you 've 
got a smutty face." 

The men laughed, Jack with the rest, as he dabbed 
at his heated, powder-stained countenance. " Come," 
said he, " that 's no fair, — they 're as white as I am, 
then, when I Ve just scrubbed ; and some of them are 
first-raters, too ; none of your rag, tag, and bobtail. 
There 's one I remember, a man from Philadelphia, 
who walks round like a prince. He 's a gentleman, 
every inch, — and he 's rich, — and about the hand- 
somest-looking specimen of humanity I 've set eyes 
upon for an age." 

" Rich, is he ? how do you know he 's rich ? " 

" I was over one night with Captain Ware, and he 
and this man got to talking about the pay for the Fifty- 
fourth. The government promised them regular pay, 
you see, and then when it got 'em refused to stick to 
its agreement, and they would take no less, so they 
have n't seen a dime since they enlisted ; and it 's a 
darned mean piece of business, that 's my opinion of 
the matter, and I don't care who knows it," looking 
round belligerently. 

" Come, Bantam, don't crow so loud," interrupted 
the big Ohioan ; " nobody 's going to fight you on that 
statement ; it 's a shame, and no mistake. But what 
about your paragon? " 

" I '11 tell you. The Captain was trying to convince 



What Answer? 217 

him that they had better take what they could get till 
they got the whole, and that, after all, it was but a pal- 
try difference. 'But,' said the man, 'it's not the 
money, though plenty of us are poor enough to make 
that an item. It's the badge of disgrace, the stigma 
attached, the dishonor to the government. If it were 
only two cents we would n't submit to it, for the differ- 
ence would be made because we are colored, and 
we 're not going to help degrade our own people, not 
if we starve for it. Besides, it's our flag, and our 
government now, and we 've got to defend the honor 
of both against any assailants, North or South, — 
whether they 're Republican Congressmen or rebel sol- 
diers.' The Captain looked puzzled at that, and asked 
what he meant. ' Why,' said he, l the United States 
government enlisted us as soldiers. Being such, we 
don't intend to disgrace the service by accepting the 
pay of servants.'" 

" That 's the kind of talk," bawled Jim from a fence- 
rail upon which he was balancing. " I 'd like to have 
a shake of that fellow's paw. What 's his name, d 'ye 
know ? " 

" Ercildoune." 

"Hey?" 

" Ercildoune." 

" Jemime ! Ercildoune, — from Philadelphia, you 
say?" 

10 



218 What Answer? 

" Yes, — do you know him ? " 

" Well, no, — I don't exactly know him, but I think 
I know something about him. His pa 's rich as a nob, 
if it 's the one I mean," — and then finished sotto voce, 
" it 's Mrs. Surrey's brother, sure as a gun ! " 

"Well, he ought to be rich, if he ain't. As we, 
that 's the Captain and me, were walking away, the Cap- 
tain said to one of the officers of the Fifty-fourth who 'd 
been listening to the talk, ' It 's easy for that man to 
preach self-denial for a principle. He 's rich, I 've 
heard. It don't hurt him any; but it's rather selfish 
to hold some of the rest up to his standard ; and I 
presume that such a man as he has no end of influence 
with them ! ' 

" ' As he should,' said his officer. ' Ercildoune has 
brains enough to stock a regiment, and refinement, and 
genius, and cultivation that would assure him the high- 
est position in society or professional life anywhere 
out of America. He won't leave it though; for in 
spite of its wrongs to him he sees its greatness and 
goodness, — says that it is his, and that it is to be 
saved, it and all its benefits, for Americans, — no mat- 
ter what the color of their skin, — of whom he is one. 
He sees plain enough that this war is going to break 
the slave's chain, and ultimately the stronger chain of 
prejudice that binds his people to the grindstone, and 
he 's full of enthusiasm for it, accordingly ; though I'm 



What Answer t 219 

free to confess, the magnanimity of these colored men 
from the North who fight, on faith, for the government, 
is to me something amazing.' " 

" l Why,' said the Captain, — ' why, any more from 
the North than from the South ? ' " 

" Why ? the blacks down here can at least fight their 
ex-masters, and pay off some old scores ; but for a man 
from the North who is free already, and so has nothing 
to gain in that way, — whose rights as a man and a 
citizen are denied, — for such a man to enlist and to 
fight, without bounty, pay, honor, or promotion, — 
without the promise of gaining anything whatever for 
himself, — condemned to a thankless task on the one 
side, — to a merciless death or even worse fate on the 
other, — facing all this because he has faith that the 
great republic will ultimately be redeemed ; that some 
hands will gather in the harvest of this bloody sowing, 
though he be lying dead under it, — I tell you, the 
more I see of these men, the more I know of them, 
the more am I filled with admiration and astonish- 
ment. 

" Now here 's this one of whom we are talking, Er- 
cildoune, born with a silver spoon in his mouth : in- 
stead of eating with it, in peace and elegance, in some 
European home, look at him here. You said some- 
thing about his lack of self-sacrifice. He 's doing what 
he is from a principle j and beyond that, it 's no won- 



220 What Answer? 

der the men care for him : he has spent a small fortune 
on the most needy of them since they enlisted, — find- 
ing out which of them have families, or any one de- 
pendent on them, and helping them in the finest and 
most delicate way possible. There are others like 
him here, and it 's a fortunate circumstance, for there 's 
not a man but would suffer, himself, — and, what 's 
more, let his family suffer at home, — before he 'd give 
up the idea .for which they are contending now." 

" ' Well, good luck to them ! ' said the Captain as we 
came away ; and so say I," finished Jack. 

" And I," — " And I," responded some of the 
men. " We must see this man when they come over 
here." 

" I '11 bet you a shilling," said Jim, pulling out a bit 
of currency, " that he '11 make his mark to-night." 

" Lend us the change, Given, and I '11 take you up," 
said one of the men. 

The others laughed. "He don't mean it," said 
Jim : which, indeed, he did n't. Nobody seemed in- 
clined to run any risks by betting on the other side of 
so likely a proposition. 

This talk took place late in the afternoon, near the 
head-quarters of the commanding General ; and the 
men directly scattered to prepare for the work of the 
evening : some to clean a bayonet, or furbish up a 
rifle ; others to chat and laugh over the chances and 



What Answer? 221 

to lay plans for the morrow, — the morrow which was 
for them never to dawn on earth ; and yet others to 
sit down in their tents and write letters to the dear 
ones at home, making what might, they knew, be a 
final farewell, — for the fight impending was to be a 
fierce one, — or to read a chapter in a little book carried 
from some quiet fireside, balancing accounts perchance, 
in anticipation of the call of the Great Captain to come 
up higher. 

Through the whole afternoon there had been a tre- 
mendous cannonading of the fort from the gunboats 
and the land forces : the smooth, regular engineer 
lines were broken, and the fresh-sodded embankments 
torn and roughened by the unceasing rain of shot and 
shell. 

About six o'clock there came moving up the island, 
over the burning sands and under the burning sky, a 
stalwart, splendid-appearing set of men, who looked 
equal to any daring, and capable of any heroism ; 
men whom nothing could daunt and few things subdue. 
Now, weary, travel-stained, with the mire and the 
rain of a two days' tramp ; weakened by the incessant 
strain and lack of food, having taken nothing for forty- 
eight hours save some crackers and cold coffee ; with 
gaps in their ranks made by the death of comrades who 
had fallen in battle but a little time before, — under all 
these disadvantages, it was plain to be seen of what 



22.2 What Answer f 

stuff these men were made, and for what work they 
were ready. 

As this regiment, the famous Fifty-fourth, came up the 
island to take its place at the head of the storming 
party in the assault on Wagner, it was cheered from 
all sides by the white soldiers, who recognized and 
honored the heroism which it had already shown, and 
of which it was soon to give such new and sublime 
proof. 

The evening, or rather the afternoon, was a lurid 
and sultry one. Great masses of clouds, heavy and 
black, were piled in the western sky, fringed here and 
there by an angry red, and torn by vivid streams of 
lightning. Not a breath of wind shook the leaves or 
stirred the high, rank grass by the water-side ; a por- 
tentous and awful stillness filled the air, — the stillness 
felt by nature before a devastating storm. Quiet, 
with the like awful and portentous calm, the black 
regiment, headed by its young, fair-haired, knightly 
colonel, marched to its destined place and action. 

When within about six hundred yards of the fort it 
was halted at the head of the regiments already sta- 
tioned, and the line of battle formed. The prospect 
was such as might daunt the courage of old and well- 
tried veterans, but these soldiers of a few weeks 
seemed but impatient to take the odds, and to make 
light of impossibilities. A slightly rising ground, raked 



What Answer? 223 

by a murderous fire, to within a little distance of the 
battery ; a ditch holding three feet of water ; a straight 
lift of parapet, thirty feet high ; an impregnable po- 
sition, held by a desperate and invincible foe. 

Here the men were addressed in a few brief and 
burning words by their heroic commander. Here 
they were besought to glorify their whole race by the 
lustre of their deeds ; here their faces shone with a 
look which said, " Though men, we are ready to do 
deeds, to achieve triumphs, worthy the gods ! " here 
the word of command was given : — 

" We are ordered and expected to take Battery 
Wagner at the point of the bayonet. Are you ready ? " 

" Ay, ay, sir ! ready ! " was the answer. 

And the order went pealing down the line, " Ready ! 
Close ranks ! Charge bayonets ! Forward ! Double- 
quick, march ! " — and away they went, under a scat- 
tering fire, in one compact line till within one hundred 
feet of the fort, when the storm of death broke upon 
them. Every gun belched forth its great shot and 
shell ; eveiy rifle whizzed out its sharp-singing, death- 
freighted messenger. The men wavered not for an 
instant ; — forward, — forward they went ; plunged into 
the ditch ; waded through the deep water, no longer 
of muddy hue, but stained crimson with their blood ; 
and commenced to climb the parapet. The foremost 
line fell, and then the next, and the next. The ground 



224 What Answer? 

was strewn with the wrecks of humanity, scattered 
prostrate, silent, where they fell, — or rolling under the 
very feet of the living comrades who swept onward to 
fill their places. On, over the piled-up mounds of 
dead and dying, of wounded and slain, to the mouth 
of the battery ; seizing the guns ; bayoneting the gun- 
ners at their posts ; planting their flag and struggling 
around it ; their leader on the walls, sword in hand, his 
blue eyes blazing, his fair face aflame, his clear voice 
calling out, " Forward, my brave boys ! " — then 
plunging into the hell of battle before him. Forward 
it was. They followed him, gathered about him, 
gained an angle of the fort, and fought where he fell, 
around his prostrate body, over his peaceful heart, — 
shielding its dead silence by their living, pulsating 
ones, — till they, too, were stricken down ; then hacked, 
hewn, battered, mangled, heroic, yet overcome, the 
remnant was beaten back. 

Ably sustained by their supporters, Anglo-African 
and Anglo-Saxon vied together to carry off the palm 
of courage and glory. All the world knows the 
last fought with heroism sublime : all the world forgets 
this and them in contemplating the deeds and the 
death of their compatriots. Said Napoleon at Auster- 
litz to a young Russian officer, overwhelmed with 
shame at yielding his sword, " Young man, be con- 
soled : those who are conquered by my soldiers may 



What Answer? 225 

still have titles to glory." To say that on that memo- 
rable night the last were surpassed by the first is still 
to leave ample margin on which to write in glowing 
characters the record of their deeds. 

As the men were clambering up the parapet their 
color-sergeant was shot dead, the colors trailing 
stained and wet in the dust beside him. Ercildoune, 
who was just behind, sprang forward, seized the staff 
from his dying hand, and mounted with it upward. A 
ball struck his right arm, yet ere it could fall shattered 
by his side, his left hand caught the flag and carried it 
onward. Even in the mad sweep of assault and death 
the men around him found breath and time to hurrah, 
and those behind him pressed more gallantly forward 
to follow such a lead. He kept in his place, the colors 
flying, — though faint with loss of blood and wrung with 
agony, — up the slippery steep ; up to the walls of the 
fort ; on the wall itself, planting the flag where the men 
made that brief, splendid stand, and melted away like 
snow before furnace-heat. Here a bayonet thrust met 
him and brought him down, a great wound in his brave 
breast, but he did not yield ; dropping to his knees, 
pressing his unbroken arm upon the gaping wound, — 
bracing himself against a dead comrade, — the colors 
still flew ; an inspiration to the men about him : a defi- 
ance to the foe. 

At last when the shattered ranks fell back, sullenly 
10* o 



226 What Answer? 

and slowly retreating, it was seen by those who 
watched him, — men lying for three hundred rods 
around in every form of wounded suffering, — that he 
was painfully working his way downward, still holding 
aloft the flag, bent evidently on saving it, and saving 
it as flag had rarely, if ever, been saved before. 

Some of the men had crawled, some had been car- 
ried, some hastily caught up and helped by comrades 
to a sheltered tent out of range of the fire ; a hospital 
tent, they called it, if anything could bear that name 
which was but a place where men could lie to suffer 
and expire, without a bandage, a surgeon, or even a 
drop of cooling water to moisten parched and dying 
lips. Among these was Jim. He had a small field- 
glass in his pocket, and forgot or ignored his pain in 
his eager interest of watching through this the progress 
of the man and the flag, and reporting accounts to his 
no less eager companions. Black soldiers and white 
were alike mad with excitement over the deed ; and 
fear lest the colors which had not yet dipped should 
at last bite the ground. 

Now and then he paused at some impediment : it 
was where the dead and dying were piled so thickly 
as to compel him to make a detour. Now and then 
he rested a moment to press his arm tighter against 
his torn and open breast. The rain fell in such tor- 
rents, the evening shadows were gathering so thickly, 



What Answer? 227 

that they could scarcely trace his course, long before 
it was ended. 

Slowly, painfully, he dragged himself onward, — 
step by step down the hill, inch by inch across the 
ground, — to the door of the hospital ; and then, while 
dying eyes brightened, — dying hands and even shat- 
tered stumps were thrown into the air, — in brief, 
while dying men held back their souls from the eter- 
nities to cheer him, — gasped out, " I did — but do — 
my duty, boys, — and the dear — old flag — never once 
— touched the ground," — and then, away from the 
reach and sight of its foes, in the midst of its defend- 
ers, who loved and were dying for it, the flag at last 

fell. 

• • • • • • 

Meanwhile, other troops had gone up to the encoun- 
ter j other regiments strove to win what these men had 
failed to gain ; and through the night, and the storm, 
and the terrific reception, did their gallant endeavor — 
in vain. 

The next day a flag of truce went up to beg the 
body of the heroic young chief who had so led that 
marvellous assault. It came back without him. A 
ditch, deep and wide, had been dug ; his body, and 
those of twenty-two of his men found dead upon and 
about him, flung into it in one common heap; 



228 What Answer? 

and the word sent back was, " We have buried him 
with his niggers." 

It was well done. The fair, sweet face and gallant 
breast lie peacefully enough under their stately monu- 
ment of ebony. 

It was well done. What more fitting close of such 
a life, — what fate more welcome to him who had 
fought with them, had loved, and believed in them, 
had led them to death, — than to lie with them when 
they died? 

It was well done. Slavery buried these men, black 
and white, together, — black and white in a common 
grave. Let Liberty see to it, then, that black and 
white be raised together in a life better than the old. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



" Spirits are not finely touched 
But to fine issues." 

Shakespeare. 



SURREY was to depart for his command on Mon- 
day night, and as there were various matters which 
demanded his attention in town ere leaving, he drove 
Francesca to the city on the preceding Sunday, — a 
soft clear summer evening, full of pleasant sights and 
sounds. They scarcely spoke as, hand in hand, they 
sat drinking in the scene whilst the old gray, for they 
wished no high-stepping prancers for this ride, jogged 
on the even tenor of his way. Above them, the blue 
of the sky never before seemed so deep and tender ; 
while in it floated fleecy clouds of delicate amber, 
rose, and gold, like gossamer robes of happy spir- 
its invisible to human eyes. The leaves and grass 
just stirred in the breeze, making a slight, musical 
murmur, and across them fell long shadows cast by 
the westering sun. A sentiment so sweet and pleas- 
urable as to be tinged with pain, took possession of 
these young, susceptible souls, as the influences of 
the time closed about them. In our happiest mo- 
ments, our moments of utmost exaltation, it is always 



230 What Answer? 

•thus : — when earth most nearly approaches the beati- 
tudes of heaven, and the spirit stretches forward with 
a vain longing for the far off, which seems but a little 
way beyond ; the unattained and dim, which for a 
space come near. 

" Darling ! " said Surrey softly, " does it not seem 
easy now to die ? " 

" Yes, Willie," she whispered, " I feel as though it 
would be stepping over a very little stream to some 
new and beautiful shore." 

Doubtless, when a pure and great soul is close to 
eternity, ministering angels draw nigh to one soon to 
be of their number, and cast something of the peace 
and glory of their presence on the spirit yet held by 
its cerements of clay. 

At last the ride and the evening had an end. The 
country and its dear delights were mere memories, — 
fresh, it is true, but memories still, and no longer re- 
alities, — in the luxurious rooms of their hotel. 

Evidently Surrey had something to say, which he 
hesitated and feared to utter. Again and again, when 
Francesca was talking of his plans and purposes, 
trusting and hoping that he might see no hard ser- 
vice, nor be called upon for any exposing duty, " not 
yet awhile," she prayed, at least, — again and again he 
made as if to speak, and then, ere she could notice 
the movement, shook his head with a gesture of si- 



What Answer? 231 

lence, or — she seeing it, and asking what it was he 
had to say — found ready utterance for some other 
thought, and whispered to himself, " not yet ; not quite 
yet Let her rest in peace a little space longer." 

They sat talking far into the night, this last night 
that they could spend together in so long a time, — how 
long, God, with whom are hid the secrets of the future, 
could alone tell. They talked of what had passed, which 
was ended, — and of what was to come, which was not 
sure but full of hope, — but of both with a feeling 
that quickened their heart-throbs, and brought happy 
tears to their eyes. 

Twice or thrice a sound from some far distance, un- 
decided, yet full of a solemn melody, came through the 
open window, borne to their ears on the still air of 
night, — something so undefined as not consciously to 
arrest their attention, yet still penetrating their nerves 
and affecting some fine, inner sense of feeling, for both 
shivered as though a chill wind had blown across them, 
and Surrey — half ashamed of the confession — said, 
" I don't know what possesses me, but I hear dead 
marches as plainly as though I were following a sol- 
dier's funeral." 

Francesca at that grew white, crept closer to his 
breast, and spread out her arms as if to defend him by 
that slight shield from some impending danger ; then 
both laughed at these foolish and superstitious fan- 



232 What Answer? 

cies, and went on with their cheerful and tender 
talk. 

Whatever the sound was, it grew plainer and came 
nearer ; and, pausing to listen, they discovered it was 
a mighty swell of human voices and the marching of 
many feet. 

" A regiment going through," said they, and ran to 
the window to see if it passed their way, looking for it 
up the long street, which lay solemn and still in the 
moonlight. On either side the palace-like houses stood 
stately and dark, like giant sentinels guarding the 
magnificent avenue, from whence was banished every 
sight and sound of the busy life of day ; not a noise, 
not a footfall, not a solitary soul abroad, not a wave 
nor a vestige of the great restless sea of humanity 
which a little space before surged through it, and 
which, in a little while to come, would rise and swell 
to its full, and then ebb, and fall, and drop away once 
more into silence and nothingness. 

Through this white stillness there came marching a 
regiment of men, without fife or drum, moving to the 
music of a refrain which lifted and fell on the quiet 
air. It was the Battle Hymn of the Republic, — and 
the two listeners presently distinguished the words, — 

" In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, 
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me ; 
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, 
While God is marching on." 



What Answer? 233 

The effect of this ; the thousand voices which sang ; 
the marching of twice one thousand feet ; the majesty 
of the words ; the deserted street ; the clear moonlight 
streaming over the men, reflected from their gleam- 
ing bayonets, brightening the faded blue of their uni- 
forms, illumining their faces which, one and all, seemed 
to wear — and probably did wear — a look more sol- 
emn and earnest than that of common life and feel- 
ing, — the combined effect of it all was something in- 
describably impressive : — ■■ inspiring, yet solemn. 

They stood watching and listening till the pageant 
had vanished, and then turned back into their room, 
Francesca taking up the refrain and singing the line, 

" As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, 
While God is marching on/' 

Surrey's face brightened at the rapt expression of 
hers. " Sing it again, dearie ! " he said. She sang it 
again. " Do you mean it ? " he asked then. " Can 
you sing it, and mean it with all your heart, for me? " 

She looked at him with an expression of anxiety 
and pain. " What are you asking, Willie ? " 

He sat down; taking her upon his knee, and with 
the old fond gesture, holding her head to his heart, 
— "I should have told you before, dearie, but I did 
not wish to throw any shadow on the happy days we 
have been spending together ; they were few and brief 



234 What Answer? 

enough without marring them ; and I was certain of 
the effect it would have upon you, by your incessant 
anxiety for Robert." 

She drew a long, gasping sigh, and started away 
from his hold : " O Willie, you are not going to — " 

His arm drew her back to her resting-place. " I do 
not return to my command, darling. I am to raise a 
black brigade." 
. " Freedmen ? " 

" Yes, dearie." 

" O Willie, — and that act just passed ! " 

" It is true ; yet, after all, it is but one risk more." 

" One ? O Willie, it is a thousand. You had that 
many chances of escape where you were ; you might 
be wounded and captured a score of times, and come 
home safe at last ; but this ! " 

" I know." 

" To go into every battle with the sentence of death 
hanging over you ; to know that if you are anywhere 
captured, anyhow made prisoner, you are condemned 
to die, — O Willie, I can't bear it ; I can't bear it ! I 
shall die, or go mad, to carry such a thought all the 
time." 

For answer he only held her close, with his face rest- 
ing upon her hair, and in the stillness they could hear 
each other's heart beat. 

" It is God's service," he said, at last. 



What Answer? 235 

"I know." 

" It will end slavery and the war more effectually 
than aught else." 

" I know." 

" It will make these freedmen, wherever they fight, 
free men. It will give them and their people a sense 
of dignity and power that might otherwise take gener- 
ations to secure." 

" I know." 

" And I. Both feeling and knowing this, who so fit 
to yield and to do for such a cause ? If those who see 
do not advance, the blind will never walk." 

Silence for a space again fell between them. Fran- 
cesca moved in his arm. 

" Dearie." She looked up. " I want to do no half 
service. I go into this heart and soul, but I do not 
wish to go alone. It will be so much to me to know 
that you are quite willing, and bade me go. Think 
what it is." 

She did. For an instant all sacrifices appeared 
easy, all burdens light. She could send him out to 
death unfaltering. One of those sublime moods in 
which martyrdom seems glorious filled and possessed 
her. She took away her clinging arms from his neck, 
and said, " Go, — whether it be for life or for death ; 
whether you come back to me or go up to God ; I am 
willing — glad — to yield you to such a cause." 



22,6 What Answer? 

It was finished. There was nothing more to be 
said. Both had climbed the mount of sacrifice, and 
sat still with God. 

After a while the cool gray dawn stole into their 
room. The night had passed in this communion, and 
another day come. 

There were many " last things " which claimed 
Surrey's attention ; and he, wishing to get through 
them early, so as to have the afternoon and evening 
undisturbed with Francesca, plunged into a stinging 
bath to refresh him for the day, breakfasted, and was 
gone. 

He attended to his business, came across many an 
old acquaintance and friend, some of whom greeted 
him coldly ; a few cut him dead \ whilst others put 
out their hands with cordial frankness, and one or two 
congratulated him heartily upon his new condition and 
happiness. These last gave him fresh courage for the 
task which he had set himself. If friends regarded 
the matter thus, surely they — his father and mother — 
would relent, when he came to say what might be a 
final adieu. 

He ran up the steps, rang the bell, and, speaking a 
pleasant word to the old servant, went directly to his 
mother's room. His father had not yet gone down 
town • thus he found them together. They started at 
seeing him, and his mother, forgetting for the instant 



What Answer? 237 

all her pride, chagrin, and anger, had her arms about 
his neck, with the cry, " O Willie, Willie," which 
came from the depths of her heart ; then seeing her 
husband's face, and recovering herself, sat down cold 
and still. 

It was a painful interview. He could not leave 
without seeing them once more ; he longed for a lov- 
ing good by ; but after that first outburst he almost 
wished he had not forced the meeting. He did not 
speak of his wife, nor did they ; but a barrier as of 
adamant was raised between them, and he felt as 
though congealing in the breath of an iceberg. At 
length he rose to go. 

" Father ! " he said then, " perhaps you will care to 
know that I do not return to my old command, but 
have been commissioned to raise a brigade from the 
freedmen." 

Both father and mother knew the awful peril of this 
service, and both cried, half in suffering, half in an- 
ger, " This is your wife's work ! " while his fathei 
added, with a passionate exclamation, " It is right, 
quite right, that you should identify yourself with her 
people. Well, go your way. You have made your 
bed; lie in it." 

The blood flushed into Surrey's face. He opened 
his lips, and shut them again. At last he said . 
" Father, will you never forego this cruel preju- 
dice ? " 



238 What Answer? 

" Never ! " answered his mother, quickly. " Never ! n 
repeated his father, with bitter emphasis. " It is a 
feeling that will never die out, and ought never to 
die out, so long as any of the race remain in America. 
She belongs to it, that is enough." 

Surrey urged no further ; but with few words, con- 
strained on their part, — though under its covering of 
pride the mother's heart was bleeding for him, — sad 
and earnest on his, the farewell was spoken, and 
they watched him out of the room. How and when 
would they see him again ? 

There was one other call upon his time. The day 
was wearing into the afternoon, but he would not 
neglect it. This was to see his old protege, Abram 
Franklin, in whom he had never lost interest, and 
for whose welfare he had cared, though he had not 
seen him in more than two years. He knew that 
Abram was ill, had been so for a long time, and wished 
to see him and speak to him a few friendly and cheer- 
ing words, — ■ sure, from what the boy's own hand had 
written, that this would be his last opportunity upon 
earth to so do. 

Thus he went on from his father's stately palace up 
Fifth Avenue, turned into the quiet side street, and 
knocked at the little green door. Mrs. Franklin came 
to open it, her handsome face thinner and sadder than 
of old. She caught Surrey's hand between both of 



What Answer? 239 

hers with a delighted cry: "Is it you, Mr. Willie? 
How glad I am to see you ! How glad Abram will be ! 
How good of you to come ! " And, holding his hand 
as she used when he was a boy, she led him up 
stairs to the sick-room. This room was even cosier 
than the two below ; its curtains and paper cheerfuller ; 
its furniture of quainter and more hospitable aspect ; 
its windows letting in more light and air ; everything 
clean and homely, and pleasant for weary, suffering 
eyes to look upon. 

Abram was propped up in bed, his dark, intelligent 
face worn to a shadow, fiery spots breaking through 
the tawny hue upon cheeks and lips, his eyes bright 
with fever. Surrey saw, as he came and sat beside him, 
that for him earthly sorrow and toil were almost ended. 

He had brought some fruit and flowers, and a little 
book. This last Abram, having thanked him eagerly 
for all, stretched out his hand to examine. 

" You see, Mr. Willie, I have not gotten over my old 
love," he said, as his fingers closed upon it. " Whit- 
tier ? ' In War-Time ' ? that is fine. I can read about 
it, if I can't do anything in it," and he lay for a 
while quietly turning over the pages. Mrs. Franklin 
had gone out to do an errand, and the two were alone. 

" Do you know, Mr. Willie," said Abram, putting his 
finger upon the titles of two successive poems, " The 
Waiting," and " The Summons," " I had hard work to 



240 What A nswer ? 

submit to this sickness a few months ago ? I fought 
against it strong ; do you know why ? " 

" Not your special reason. What was it ? " 
" I had waited so long, you see, — I, and my peo- 
ple, — for a chance. It made me quite wild to watch 
this big fight go on, and know that it was all about us, 
and not be allowed to participate ; and at last when 
the chance came, and the summons, and the way was 
opened, I could n't answer, nor go. It 's not the dying 
I care for • I 'd be willing to die the first battle I was 
in ; but I want to do something for the cause before 
death comes." \ 

The book was lying open where it had fallen from 
his hand, and Surrey, glancing down at the veiy 
poem of which he spoke, said gently, "Here is your 
answer, Franklin, better than any I can make ; it 
ought to comfort you ; listen, it is God's truth ! 

' O power to do ! O baffled will ! 

O prayer and action ! ye are one ; 
Who may not strive may yet fulfil 
The harder task of standing still, 

And good but wished with God is done ! ' ' 

" It is so, " said Abram. " You act and I pray, and 
you act for me and mine. I 'd like to be under you 
when you get the troops you were telling me about ; 
but — God knows best." 

Surrey sat gazing earnestly into space, crowded by 



What Answer? 241 

emotions called up by these last words, whilst Abrara 
lay watching him with admiring and loving eyes. 
" For me and mine," he repeated softly, his look fas- 
tening on the blue sleeve, which hung, limp and empty, 
near his hand. This he put out cautiously, but drew 
it back at some slight movement from his companion ; 
then, seeing that he was still absorbed, advanced it 
once more, and slowly, timidly, gently, lifted it to his 
mouth, pressing his lips upon it as upon a shrine. 
" For me and mine ! " he whispered, — " for me and 
mine ! " tears dimming the pathetic, dying eyes. 

The peaceful quiet was broken by a tempest of aw- 
ful sound, — groans and shrieks and yells mingled in 
horrible discord, blended with the trampling of many 
feet, — noises which seemed to their startled and ex- 
cited fancies like those of hell itself. The next 
moment a door was flung open ; and Mrs. Franklin, 
bruised, lame, her garments torn, blood flowing from a 
cut On her head, staggered into the room. " O Lord ! 
O Lord Jesus ! " she cried, " the day of wrath has 
come ! " and fell, shuddering and crying, on the floor. 



11 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

"Will the future come? It seems that we may almost ask this question, 
when we see such terrible shadow." — Victor Hugo. 

ERE it will be necessary to consider some facts 
which, while they are rather in the domain of 
the grave recorder of historical events, than in that of 
the narrator of personal experiences, are yet essential 
to the comprehension of. the scenes in which Surrey 
and Francesca took such tragic parts. 

Following the proclamation for a draft in the city of 
New York, there had been heard on all sides from the 
newspaper press which sympathized with and aided 
the rebellion, premonitions of the coming storm ; 
denunciations of the war, the government, the sol- 
diers, of the harmless and inoffensive negroes ; angry 
incitings of the poor man to hatred against the rich, 
since the rich man could save himself from the neces- 
sity of serving in the ranks by the payment of three 
hundred dollars of commutation money ; incendiary 
appeals to the worst passions of the most ignorant 
portion of the community ; and open calls to insurrec- 
tion and arms to resist the peaceable enforcement of a 
law enacted in furtherance of the defence of the na 
tion's life. 



What Answer? 243 

Doubtless this outbreak had been intended at the 
time of the darkest and most disastrous days of the 
Republic ; when the often-defeated and sorely dispirited 
Army of the Potomac was marching northward to 
cover Washington and Baltimore, and the victorious 
legions of traitors under Lee were swelling across the 
border, into a loyal State ; when Grant stood in seem- 
ingly hopeless waiting before Vicksburg, and Banks 
before Port Hudson ; and the whole people of the 
North, depressed and disheartened by the continued 
series of defeats to our arms, were beginning to look 
each at his neighbor, and whisper with white lips, 
" Perhaps, after all, this struggle is to be in vain." 

Had it been attempted at this precise time, it would, 
without question, have been, not a riot, but an insur- 
rection, — would have been a portion of the army of 
rebellion, organized and effective for the prosecution 
of the war, and not a mob, hideous and devilish in its 
work of destruction, yet still a mob ; and as such to 
be beaten down and dispersed in a comparatively 
short space of time. 

On the morning of Monday, the thirteenth of July, 
began this outbreak, unparalleled in atrocities by 
anything in American history, and equalled only by 
the horrors of the worst days of the French Revolu- 
tion. Gangs of men and boys, composed of railroad 
employees, workers in machine-shops, and a vast 



244 What Answer? 

crowd of those who lived by preying upon others, 
thieves, pimps, professional ruffians, — the scum of 
the city, — jail-birds, or those who were running with 
swift feet to enter the prison-doors, began to gather on 
the corners, and in streets and alleys where they lived ; 
from thence issuing forth they visited the great estab- 
lishments on the line of their advance, commanding 
their instant close and the companionship of the 
workmen, — many of them peaceful and orderly men, 
— on pain of the destruction of one and a murderous 
assault upon the other, did not their orders meet with 
instant compliance. 

A body of these, five or six hundred strong, gather- 
ed about one of the enrolling-offices in the upper part 
of the city, where the draft was quietly proceeding, 
and opened the assault upon it by a shower of clubs, 
bricks, and paving-stones torn from the streets, fol- 
lowing it up by a furious rush into the office. Lists, 
records, books, the drafting-wheel, every article of fur- 
niture or work in the room was rent in pieces, and 
strewn about the floor or flung into the street ; while 
the law officers, the newspaper reporters, — who are 
expected to be everywhere, — and the few peaceable 
spectators, were compelled to make a hasty retreat 
through an opportune rear exit, accelerated by the 
curses and blows of the assailants. 

A safe in the room, which contained some of the 



What Answer? 245 

hated records, was fallen upon by the men, who strove 
to wrench open its impregnable lock with their naked 
hands, and, baffled, beat them on its iron doors and 
sides till they v/ere stained with blood, in a mad frenzy 
of senseless hate and fury. And then, finding every 
portable article destroyed, — their thirst for ruin grow- 
ing by the little drink it had had, — and believing, or 
rather hoping, that the officers had taken refuge in the 
upper rooms, set fire to the house, and stood watching 
the slow and steady lift of the flames, filling the air with 
demoniac shrieks and yells, while they waited for the 
prey to escape from some door or window, from the 
merciless fire to their merciless hands. One of these, 
who was on the other side of the street, courageously 
stepped forward, and, telling them that they had utterly 
demolished all they came to seek, informed them that 
helpless women and little children were in the house, 
and besought them to extinguish the flames and leave 
the ruined premises ; to disperse, or at least to seek 
some other scene. 

By his dress recognizing in him a government offi- 
cial, so far from hearing or heeding his humane appeal, 
they set upon him with sticks and clubs, and beat him 
till his eyes were blind with blood, and he — bruised 
and mangled — succeeded in escaping to thejiandful 
of police who stood helpless before this howling crew, 
now increased to thousands. With difficulty and pain 



246 What Answer? 

th&inoffensive tenants escaped from the rapidly spread- 
ing fire, which, having devoured the house originally 
lighted, swept across the neighboring buildings till the 
whole block stood a mass of burning flames. The 
firemen came up tardily and reluctantly, many of them 
of the same class as the miscreants who surrounded 
them, and who cheered at their approach, but either 
made no attempt to perform their duty, or so feeble 
and farcical a one, as to bring disgrace upon a service 
they so generally honor and ennoble. 

At last, when there was here nothing more to ac- 
complish, the mob, swollen to a frightful size, includ- 
ing myriads of wretched, drunken women, and the 
half-grown, vagabond boys of the pavements, rushed 
through the intervening streets, stopping cars and in- 
sulting peaceable citizens on their way, to an armory 
where were manufactured and stored carbines and 
guns for the government. In anticipation of the at- 
tack, this, earlier in the day, had been fortified by 
a police squad capable of coping with an ordinary 
crow r d of ruffians, but as chaff before fire in the pres- 
ence of these murderous thousands. Here, as before, 
the attack was begun by a rain of missiles gathered 
from the streets ; less fatal, doubtless, than more civ- 
ilized arms, but frightful in the ghastly wounds and 
injuries they inflicted. Of this no notice was taken 
by those who were stationed within ; it was repeated. 



What Answer? 247 

At last, finding they were treated with contemptuous 
silence, and that no sign of surrender was offered, the 
Crowd swayed back, — then forward, — in a combined 
attempt to force the wide entrance-doors. Heavy 
hammers and sledges, which had been brought from" 
forges and workshops, caught up hastily as they gath- 
ered the mechanics into their ranks, were used with 
frightful violence to beat them in, — at last successfully. 
The foremost assailants began to climb the stairs, but 
were checked, and for the moment driven back by 
the fire of the officers, who at last had been com- 
manded to resort to their revolvers. A half-score fell 
wounded ; and one, who had been acting in some sort 
as their leader, — a big, brutal, Irish ruffian, — dropped 
dead. 

The pause was but for an instant. As the smoke 
cleared away there was a general and ferocious on- 
slaught upon the armory ; curses, oaths, revilings, 
hideous and obscene blasphemy, with terrible yells 
and cries, filled the air in every accent of the English 
tongue save that spoken by a native American. Such 
were there mingled with the sea of sound, but they 
were so few and weak as to be unnoticeable in the 
roar of voices. The paving-stones flew like hail, until 
the street was torn into gaps and ruts, and every win- 
dow-pane, and sash, and doorway, was smashed or 
broken. Meanwhile, divers attempts were made to 



248 What Answer? 

fire the building, but failed through haste or ineffect- 
ual materials, or the vigilant watchfulness of the be- 
sieged. In the midst of this gallant defence, word 
was brought to the defenders from head-quarters that 
nothing could be done for their support ; and that, if 
they. would save their lives, they must make a quick 
and orderly retreat. Fortunately, these was a side 
passage with which the mob was unacquainted, and, 
one by one, they succeeded in gaining this, and van- 
ishing. A few, too faithful or too plucky to retreat 
before such a foe. persisted in remaining at their posts 
till the fire, which had at last been communicated to 
the building, crept unpleasantly near ; then, by drop- 
ping from sill to sill of the. broken windows, or sliding 
by their hands and feet down the rough pipes and 
stones, reached the pavement, — but not without inju- 
ries, and blows, and broken bones, which disabled for 
a lifetime, if indeed they did not die in the hospitals to 
which a few of the more mercifully disposed carried 
them. 

The work thus begun, continued, — gathering in force 
and fury as the day wore on. Police-stations, enroll- 
ing-offices, rooms or buildings used in any way by 
government authority, or obnoxious as representing 
the dignity of law, were gutted, destroyed, then left to 
the mercy of the flames. Newspaper offices, whose 
issues had been a fire in the rear of the nation's 



What Answer? 249 

armies by extenuating and defending treason, and 
through violent and incendiary appeals stirring up 
"lewd fellows of the baser sort" to this very carnival 
of ruin and blood, were cheered as the crowd went 
by. Those that had been faithful to loyalty and law 
were hooted, stoned, and even stormed by the army 
of miscreants who were only driven off by the gallant 
and determined charge of the police, and in one place 
by the equally gallant, and certainly unique defence, 
which came from turning the boiling water from the 
engines upon the howling wretches, who, unprepared 
for any such warm reception as this, beat a precipitate 
and general retreat. Before night fell it was no 
longer one vast crowd collected in a single section, 
but great numbers of gatherings, scattered over the 
whole length and breadth of the city, — some of them 
engaged in actual work of demolition and ruin ; 
others with clubs and weapons in their hands, prowl- 
ing round apparently with no definite atrocity to per- 
petrate, but ready for any iniquity that might offer, 
— and, by way of pastime, chasing every stray police 
officer, or solitary soldier, or inoffensive negro, who 
crossed the line of their vision ; these three objects — 
the badge of a defender of the law, — the uniform of 
the Union army, — the skin of a helpless and outraged 
race — acted upon these madmen as water acts upon 
a rabid dog. 

11 * . 



250 What Answer? 

Late in the afternoon a crowd which could have 
numbered not less than ten thousand, the majority of 
whom were ragged, frowzy, drunken women, gathered 
about the Orphan Asylum for Colored Children, — a 
large and beautiful building, and one of the most 
admirable and noble charities of the city. When it 
became evident, from the menacing cries and groans 
of the multitude, that danger, if not destruction, was 
meditated to the harmless and inoffensive inmates, a 
flag of truce appeared, and an appeal was made in 
their behalf, by the principal, to every sentiment of 
humanity which these beings might possess, — a vain 
appeal ! Whatever human feeling had ever, if ever, 
filled these souls was utterly drowned and washed 
away in the tide of rapine and blood in which they 
had been steeping themselves. The few officers who 
stood guard over the doors, and manfully faced these 
demoniac legions, were beaten down and flung to one 
side, helpless and stunned, whilst the vast crowd 
rushed in. All the articles upon which they could 
seize — beds, bedding, carpets, furniture, — the very 
garments of the fleeing inmates, some of these torn 
from their persons as they sped by — were carried into 
the streets, and hurried off by the women and children 
who stood ready to receive the goods which their hus- 
bands, sons, and fathers flung to their care. The 
little ones, many of them, assailed and beaten ; all, — 



, What Answer? 251 

orphans and care-takers, — exposed to every indignity 
and every danger, driven on to the street, — the build- 
ing was fired. This had been attempted whilst the 
helpless children — some of them scarce more than 
babies — were still in their rooms ; but this devilish 
consummation was prevented by the heroism of one 
man. He, the Chief of the Fire Department, strove by 
voice and arm to stay the endeavor ; and when, over- 
come by superior numbers, the brands had been lit 
and piled, with naked hands, and in the face of 
threatened death, he tore asunder the glowing embers, 
and trod them under foot. Again the effort was 
made, and again failed through the determined and 
heroic opposition of this solitary soul. Then, on the 
front steps, in the midst of these drunken and infuri- 
ate thousands, he stood up and besought them, if they 
cared nothing for themselves nor for these hapless 
orphans, that they would not bring lasting disgrace 
upon the city by destroying one of its noblest chari- 
ties, which had for its object nothing but good. 

He was answered on all sides by yells and execra- 
tions, and frenzied shrieks of " Down with the nagurs ! " 
coupled with every oath and every curse that malig- 
nant hate of the blacks could devise, and drunken, 
Irish tongues could speak. It had been decreed that 
this building was to be razed to the ground. The 
house was fired in a thousand places, and in less than 



252 What Answer? 

two hours the walls crashed in, — a mass of smoking, 
blackened ruins ; whilst the children wandered through 
the streets, a prey to beings who were wild beasts 
in everything save the superior ingenuity of man to 
agonize and torture his victims. 

Frightful as the day had been, the night was yet 
more hideous ; since to the horrors which were seen 
was added. the greater horror of deeds which might be 
committed in the darkness ; or, if they were seen, it 
was by the lurid glare of burning buildings, — the red 
flames of which — flung upon the stained and brutal 
faces, the torn and tattered garments, of men and 
women who danced and howled around the scene of 
ruin they had caused — made the whole aspect of 
affairs seem more like a gathering of fiends rejoicing 
in Pandemonium than aught with which creatures of 
flesh and blood had to do. 

Standing on some elevated point, looking over the 
great city, which presented, as usual, at night, a solemn 
and impressive show, the spectator was thrilled with a 
fearful admiration by the sights and sounds which gave 
to it a mysterious and awful interest. A thousand 
fires streamed up against the sky, making darkness 
visible ; and from all sides came a combination of 
noises such as might be heard from an asylum in 
which were gathered the madmen of the world. 

The next morning's sun rose on a city which was 



What Answer? 253 

ruled by a reign of terror. Had the police possessed 
the heads of Hydra and the arms of Briareus, and 
had these heads all seen, these arms all fought, 
they would have been powerless against the multi- 
tude of opposers. Outbreaks were made, crowds 
gathered, houses burned, streets barricaded, fights 
enacted, in a score of places at once. Where the 
officers appeared they were irretrievably beaten and 
overcome ; their stand, were it ever so short, but in- 
flaming the passions of the mob to fresh deeds of vio- 
lence. Stores were closed ; the business portion of the 
city deserted ; the large works and factories emptied 
of mem who had been sent home by their employers, 
or were swept into the ranks of the marauding bands. 
The city cars, omnibuses, hacks, were unable to run, 
and remained under shelter. Every telegraph wire was 
cut, the posts torn up, the operators driven from their 
offices. The mayor, seeing that civil power was help- 
less to stem this tide, desired to call the military to his 
aid, and place the city under martial law, but was op- 
posed by the Governor, — a governor, who, but a few 
days before, had pronounced the war a failure ; and 
not only predicted, but encouraged this mob rule, 
which was now crushing everything beneath its heavy 
and ensanguined feet. This man, through almost two 
days of these awful scenes, remained at a quiet sea- 
side retreat but a few miles from the city. Coming to 



254 What Answer? 

it on the afternoon of the second day, — instead of 
ordering cannon planted in the streets, giving these 
creatures opportunity to retire to their homes, and, in 
the event of refusal, blowing them there by powder and 
ball, — he first went to the point where was collected 
the chiefest mob, and proceeded to address them. 
Before him stood incendiaries, thieves, and murderers, 
who even then were sacking dwelling-houses, and 
butchering powerless and inoffensive beings. These 
wretches he apostrophized as " My friends," repeating 
the title again and again in the course of his harangue, 
assuring them that he was there as a proof of his 
friendship, — which he had demonstrated by " sending 
his adjutant-general to Washington, to have the draft 
stopped "; begging them to "wait for his return "; " to 
separate now as good citizens "; with the promise that 
they " might assemble again whenever they wished to 
so do "; meanwhile, he would " take care of their 
rights." This model speech was incessantly inter- 
rupted by tremendous cheering and frantic demon- 
strations of delight, — one great fellow almost crushing 
the Governor in his enthusiastic embrace. This ended, 
he entered a carriage, and was driven through the 
blackened, smoking scenes of Monday's devastations ; 
through fresh vistas of outrage, of the day's execution ; 
bland, gracious, smiling. Wherever he appeared, cheer 
upon cheer rent the air from these crowds of drunken 



What A nswer ? 255 

blasphemers ; and in one place the carriage in which 
he sat was actually lifted from the ground, and carried 
some rods, by hands yet red with deeds of arson and 
murder ; while from all sides voices cried out, " Will ye 
stop the draft, Gov'nur ? " " Bully boy ! " "Ye 're the 
man for us ! " "Hooray for Gov'nur Saymoor ! " Thus 
Through the midst of this admiring and applauding 
crowd, this high officer of the law, sworn to maintain 
public peace, moved to his hotel, where he was met 
by a despatch from Washington, informing him that 
five regiments were under arms and on their way to 
put an end to this bloody assistance to the Southern 
war. 

His allies in newspaper offices attempted to throw 
the blame upon the loyal press and portion of the 
community. This was but a repetition of the cry, raised 
by traitors in arms, that the government, struggling for 
life in their deadly hold, was responsible for the war : 
" If thou wouldst but consent to be murdered peacea- 
bly, there could be no strife." 

These editors outraged common sense, truth, and 
decency, by speaking of the riots as an " uprising of 
the people to defend their liberties," — " an opposition 
on the part of the workingmen to an unjust and op- 
pressive law, enacted in favor of the men of wealth and 
standing." As though the people of the great metropo- 
lis were incendiaries, robbers, and assassins ■ as though 



256 What Answer f 

the poor were to demonstrate their indignation- against 
the rich by hunting and stoning defenceless women 
and children ; torturing and murdering men whose 
only offence was the color God gave them, or men 
wearing the self-same uniform as that which they de- 
clared was to be thrust upon them at the behest of the 
rich and the great. • 

It was absurd and futile to characterize this new 
Reign of Terror as anything but an effort on the part 
of Northern rebels to help Southern ones, at the most 
critical moment of the war, — with the State militia 
and available troops absent in a neighboring Common- 
wealth, — and the loyal people unprepared. These 
editors and their coadjutors, men of brains and ability, 
were of that most poisonous growth, — traitors to the 
Government and the flag of their country, — renegade 
Americans. Let it, however, be written plainly and 
graven deeply, that the tribes of savages — the hordes 
of ruffians — found ready to do their loathsome bid- 
ding, were not of native growth, nor American born. 

While it is true that there were some glib-ton gued 
fellows who spoke the language without foreign accent, 
all of them of the lowest order of Democratic ward- 
politicians, or creatures skulking from the outstretched 
arm of avenging law ; while the most degraded of the 
German population were represented ; while it is also 
true that there were Irish, and Catholic Irish too, — 



What Answer? 257 

industrious, sober, intelligent people, — who indignant- 
ly refused participation in these outrages, and mourned 
over the barbarities which were disgracing their 
national name ; it is pre-eminently true, — proven by 
thousands of witnesses, and testified to by numberless 
tongues, — that the masses, the rank and file, the 
almost entire body of rioters, were the worst classes 
of Irish emigrants, infuriated by artful appeals, and 
maddened by the atrocious whiskey of thousands of 
grog-shops. 

By far the most infamous part of these cruelties was 
that which wreaked ever}- species of torture and linger- 
ing death upon the colored people of the city, — men, 
women, and children, old and young, strong and 
feeble alike. Hundreds of these fell victims to the 
prejudice fostered by public opinion, incorporated in 
our statute-books, sanctioned by our laws, which here 
and thus found legitimate outgrowth and action. The 
horrors which blanched the face of Christendom were 
but the bloody harvest of fields sown by society, by 
cultured men and women, by speech, and book, and 
press, by professions and politics, nay, by the pulpit 
itself, and the men who there make God's truth a lie, 
— garbling or denying the inspired declaration that 
'•'He has made of one blood all people to dwell 
upon the face of the earth " ; and that he, the All-Just 
and Merciful One, " is no respecter of persons." 

Q 



258 What Answer? 

This riot, begun ostensibly to oppose the enforce- 
ment of a single law, developed itself into a burn- 
ing and pillaging assault upon the homes and prop- 
erty of peaceful citizens. To realize this, it was 
only necessary to walk the streets, if that were pos- 
sible, through those days of riot and conflagration, 
observe the materials gathered into the vast, moving 
multitudes, and scrutinize the faces of those of whom 
they were composed, — deformed, idiotic, drunken, 
imbecile, poverty-stricken ; seamed with every line 
which wretchedness could draw or vicious habits 
and associations delve. -To walk these streets and 
look upon these faces was like a fearful witnessing 
in perspective of the last day, when the secrets of 
life, more loathsome than those of death, shall be 
laid bare in all their hideous deformity and ghastly 
shame. 

The knowledge of these people and their deeds 
was sufficient to create a paralysis of fear, even where 
they were not seen. Indeed, there was terror every- 
where. High and low, rich and poor, cultured and 
ignorant, all shivered in its awful grasp. Upon 
stately avenues and noisome alleys it fell with the 
like blackness of darkness. Women cried aloud to 
God with the same agonized entreaty from knees 
bent on velvet carpets or bare and dingy floors. 
Men wandered up and down, prisoners in their own 



What Answer? 259 

homes, and cursed or prayed with equal fury or 
intensity whether the homes were simple or splen- 
did. Here one surveyed all his costly store of rare 
and exquisite surroundings, and shook his head as 
he gazed, ominous and foreboding. There, another 
of darker hue peered out from garret casement, or 
cellar light, or broken window-pane, and, shuddering, 
watched some woman stoned and beaten till she died , 
some child shot down, while thousands of heavy, 
brutal feet trod over it till the hard stones were red 
with its blood, and the little prostrate form, yet 
warm, lost every likeness of humanity, and lay there, 
a sickening mass of mangled flesh and bones ; some 
man assaulted, clubbed, overborne, left wounded or 
dying or dead, as he fell, or tied to some convenient 
tree or lamp-post to be hacked and hewn, or flayed 
and roasted, yet living, where he hung, — and watch- 
ing this, and cowering as he watched, held his breath, 
and waited his own turn, not knowing when it might 
come. 



CHAPTER XIX 



In breathless quiet, after all their ills." 

Arnold. 



A body of these wretches, fresh from some act of 
rapine and pillage, had seen Mrs. Franklin, 
hastening home, and, opening the hue and cry, had 
started in full chase after her. Struck by sticks and 
stones that darkened the air, twice down, fleeing as 
those only do who flee for life, she gained her own 
house, thinking there to find security. Vain hope ! 
the door was battered in, the windows demolished, 
the puny barriers between the room in which they 
were gathered and the creatures in pursuit, speedily 
destroyed, — and these three turned to face death. 

By chance, Surrey had his sword at his side, and, 
tearing this from its scabbard, sprang to the defence, 
■ — a gallant intent, but what could one weapon and one 
arm do against such odds as these ? He was speedily 
beaten down and flung aside by the miscreants who 
swarmed into the room. It was marvellous they did 
not kill him outright. Doubtless they would have 
done so but for the face propped against the pillows, 
which caught their hungry eyes. Soldier and woman 
were alike forgotten at sight of this dying boy. Here 



What Answer ■? 261 

was a foeman worthy their steel. They gathered 
about him, and with savage hands struck at him and 
the bed upon which he lay. 

A pause for a moment to hold consultation, crowded 
with oaths and jeers and curses ; obscenity and blas- 
phemy too hideous to read or record, — then the cruel 
hands tore him from his bed, dragged him over the 
prostrate body of his mother, past the senseless 
form of his brave young defender, out to the street. 
Here they propped him against a tree, to mock and 
torment him ; to prick him, wound him, torture him ; to 
task endurance to its utmost limit, but not to extin- 
guish life. These savages had no such mercy as this 
in their souls ; and when, once or twice he fell away 
into insensibility, a cut or blow administered with dev- 
ilish skill or strength, restored him to anguish and to 
life. 

Surrey, bewildered and dizzy, had recovered con- 
sciousness, and sat gazing vacantly around him, till 
the cries and yells without, the agonized face with- 
in, thrilled every nerve into feeling. Starting up, he 
rushed to the window, but recoiled at the awful sight. 
Here, he saw, there was no human power within 
reach or call that could interfere. The whole block, 
from street to street, was crowded with men and boys, 
armed with the armory of the street, and rejoicing like 
veritable fiends of hell over the pangs of their victim. 



262 What Answer? 

Even in the moment he stood there he beheld that 
which would haunt his memory, did it endure for a 
century. At last, tired of their sport, some of those 
who were just about Abram had tied a rope about his 
body, and raised him to the nearest branch of an over- 
hanging tree ; then, heaping under him the sticks and 
clubs which were flung them from all sides, set fire to 
the dry, .inflammable pile, and watched, for the moment 
silent, to see it burn. 

Surrey fled to the other side of the room, and, cowr 
ering down, buried his head in his arm to shut out 
the awful sight and sounds. But his mother, — O mar- 
vellous, inscrutable mystery of mother-love ! — his 
mother knelt by the open window, near which hung 
her boy, and prayed aloud, that he might hear, for the 
wrung body and passing soul. Great God ! that such 
tilings were possible, and thy heavens fell not ! Through 
the sound of falling blows, reviling oaths, and hideous 
blasphemy, through the crackling of burning fagots 
and lifting flames, there went out no cry for mercy, no 
shriek of pain, no wail of despair. But when the tor- 
ture was almost ended, and nature had yielded to this 
work of fiends, the dying face was turned towards his 
mother, — the eyes, dim with the veil that falls be- 
tween time and eternity, seeking her eyes with their 
latest glance, — the voice, not weak, but clear and 
thrilling even in death, cried for her ear, " Be of 



What Answer? 263 

good cheer, mother ! they may kill the body, but they 
cannot touch the soul ! " and even with the words 
the great soul walked with God. 

After a while the mob melted out of the street to 
seek new scenes of ravage and death ; not, however, 
till they had marked the house, as those within 
learned, for the purpose of returning, if it should so 
please them, at some future time. 

When they were all gone, and the way was clear, 
these two — the mother that bore him, the elegant 
patrician who instinctively shrank from all unpleasant 
and painful things — took down the poor charred 
body, and carrying it carefully and tenderly into the 
house of a trembling neighbor, who yet opened her 
doors and bade them in, composed it decently for its 
final rest. 

It was drawing towards evening, and Surrey was 
eager to get away from this terrible region, — both 
to take the heart-stricken woman, thus thrown upon 
his care, to some place of rest and safety, and to re- 
assure Francesca, who, he knew, would be filled with 
maddening anxiety and fear at his long absence. 

At length they ventured forth : no one was in the 
square ; — turned at Fortieth Street, — all clear ; — 
went on with hasty steps to the Avenue, — not a 
soul in sight. " Safe, — thank God ! " exclaimed 



264 What Answer f 

Surrey, as he hurried his companion onward. Half 
the space to their destination had been crossed, when 
a band of rioters, rushing down the street from the 
sack and burning of the Orphan Asylum, came upon 
them. Defence seemed utterly vain. Every house 
was shut ; its windows closed and barred ; its in- 
mates gathered in some rear room. Escape and hope 
appeared alike impossible; but Surrey, flinging his 
charge behind him, with drawn sword, face to the 
on-sweeping hordes, backed down the street. The 
combination — a negro woman, a soldier's uniform — 
intensified the mad fury of the mob, which was 
nevertheless held at bay by the heroic front and 
gleaming steel of their single adversary. Only for a 
moment ! Then, not venturing near him, a shower of 
bricks and stones hurtled through the air, falling 
about and upon him. 

At this instant a voice called, " This way ! this 
way ! For God's sake ! quick ! quick ! " and he saw 
a friendly black face and hand thrust from an area 
window. Still covering with his body his defenceless 
charge, he moved rapidly towards this refuge. Rapid 
as was the motion, it was not speedy enough ; he 
reached the railing, caught her with his one powerful 
arm, imbued now with a giant's strength, flung her 
over to the waiting hands that seized and dragged her 
in, pausing for an instant, ere he leaped himself, to 



What Answer? 265 

beat back a half-dozen of the foremost miscreants, 
who would else have captured their prey, just vanish- 
ing from sight. Sublime, yet fatal delay ! but an 
instant, yet in that instant a thousand forms sur- 
rounded him, disarmed him, overcame him, and beat 
him down. 

Meanwhile what of Francesca? The morning 
passed, and with its passing came terrible rumors of 
assault and death. The afternoon began, wore on, — 
the rumors deepened to details of awful facts and re- 
alities ; and he — he, with his courage, his fatal dress 
— was absent, was on those death-crowded streets. 
She wandered from room to room, forgetting her 
reserve, and accosting every soul she met for later 
news, — for information which, received, did but tor- 
ture her with more intolerable pangs, and send her 
to her knees ; though, kneeling, she could not pray, 
only cry out in some dumb, inarticulate fashion, 
" God be merciful ! " 

The afternoon was spent ; the day gone ; the sum- 
mer twilight deepening into night ; and still he did 
not come. She had caught up her hat and mantle 
with some insane intention of rushing into the wide, 
wild city, on a frenzied search, when two gentlemen 
passing by her door, talking of the all-absorbing 
theme, arrested her ear and attention. 

" The house ought to be guarded ! These devils 
12 



266 What Answer? 

will be here presently, - — they are on the Avenue 
now." 

" Good God ! are you certain ? " 

" Certain." 

" You may well be," said a third voice, as another 
step joined theirs. "They are just above Thirtieth 
Street. I was coming down the Avenue, and saw 
them myself. I don't know what my fate would have 
been in this dress/' — Francesca knew from this that he 
who talked was of the police or soldiery, — " but they 
were engaged in fighting a young officer, who made a 
splendid defence before they cut him down ; his cour- 
age was magnificent. It makes my blood curdle to 
think of it. A fair-haired,* gallant-looking fellow, with 
only one arm. I could do nothing for him, of course, 
and should have been killed had I stayed ; so I ran 
for life. But I don't think I '11 ever quite forgive my- 
self for not rushing to the rescue, and taking my 
chance with him." 

She did not stay to hear the closing words. Out 
of the room, past them, like a spirit, — through the 
broad halls, — down the wide stairways, — on to the 
street, — up the long street, deserted here, but O, 
with what a crowd beyond ! 

A company of soldiers, paltry in number, yet each 
with loaded rifle and bayonet set, charged past her at 
double-quick upon this crowd, which gave way slowly 



What Answer? 267 

and sullenly at its approach, holding with desperate 
ferocity and determination to whatever ghastly work 
had been employing their hands, — dropped at last, — 
left on the stones, — the soldiers between it and the 
mob, — silent, motionless, — she saw it, and knew 
it where it lay. O woful sight and knowledge for 
loving eyes and bursting heart! 

Ere she reached it some last stones were flung by 
the retreating crowd, a last shot fired in the air, — ■ 
fired at random, but speeding with as unerring aim 
to her aching, anguished breast, death-freighted and 
life-destroying, — but not till she had reached her 
destined point and end ; not till her feet failed close 
to that bruised and silent form ; not till she had sunk 
beside it, gathered it in her fair young arms, and pil- 
lowed its beautiful head — from which streamed golden 
hair, dabbled and blood-bestained — upon her faith- 
ful heart. 

There it stirred ; the eyes unclosed to meet hers, a 
gleam of divine love shining through their fading fire ; 
the battered, stiffened arm lifted, as to fold her in the 
old familiar caress. " Darling — die — to make — 
free " — came in gasps from the sweet, yet whitening 
lips. Then she lay still. Where his breath blew 
across her hair it waved, and her bosom moved above 
the slow and" labored beating of his heart ; but, save 
for this, she was as quiet as the peaceful dead within 



268 What Answer? 

their graves, — and, like them, done with the noise 
and strife of time forever. 

For him, — the shadows deepened where he lay, — 
the stars came out one by one, looking down with 
clear and solemn eyes upon this wreck of fair and 
beautiful things, wrought by earthly hate and the aw- 
ful passions of men, — then veiled their light in heavy 
and sombre clouds. The rain fell upon the noble 
face and floating, sunny hair, — washing them free 
of soil, and dark and fearful stains ; moistening the 
fevered, burning lips, and cooling the bruised and 
aching frame. How passed the long night with that 
half-insensible soul ? God knoweth. The secrets of 
that are hidden in the eternity to which it now be- 
longs. Questionless, ministering spirits drew near, 
freighted with balm and inspiration • for when the 
shadows fled, and the next morning's sun shone upon 
these silent forms, it revealed faces radiant as with 
some celestial fire, and beatified as reflecting the smile 
of God. 

The inmates of the house before which lay this 
solemn mystery, rising to face a new-made day, look- 
ing out from their windows to mark what traces were 
left of last night's devastations, beheld this awful yet 
sublime sight. 

"A prejudice which, I trust, will never end," had 



What Answer? 269 

Mr. Surrey said, in bidding adieu to his son but a 
few short hours before. This prejudice, living and 
active, had now thus brought death and desolation to 
his own doors. " How unsearchable are the judg- 
ments of God, and his ways past finding out ! " 



CHAPTER XX. 

"Drink, — for thy necessity is yet greater than mine." — Sir Philip 
Sidney. 

THE hospital boat, going out of Beaufort, was a 
sad, yet great sight. It was but necessary to 
look around it to see that the men here gathered had 
stood on the slippery battle-sod, and scorned to flinch. 
You heard no cries, scarcely a groan ; whatever 
anguish wrung them as they were lifted into their 
berths, or were turned or raised for comfort, found 
little outward sign, — a long, gasping breath now and 
then ; a suppressed exclamation ; sometimes a laugh, 
to cover what would else be a cry of mortal agony ; 
almost no swearing ; these men had been too near the 
awful realities of death and eternity, some of them 
were still too near, to make a mock at either. Having 
demonstrated themselves heroes in action, they would, 
one and all, be equally heroes in the hour of suffering, 
or on the bed of lingering death. 

Jim, so wounded as to make every movement a 
pang, had been carefully carried in on a stretcher, and 
as carefully lifted into a middle berth. 

"Good," said one of the men, as he eased him 
down on his pillow. 



What Answer? 271 

" What 's good ? " queried Jim. 

" The berth ; middle berth. Put you in as easy as 
into the lowest one : bad lifting such a leg as yours 
into the top one, and it's the comfortablest of the 
three when you 're in." 

" O, that 's it, is it ? all right ; glad I 'm here then ; 
getting in did n't hurt more than a flea-bite," — saying 
which Jim turned his face away to put his teeth down 
hard on a lip already bleeding. The wrench to his 
shattered leg was excruciating, "But then," as he 
announced to himself, " no snivelling, James ; you 're 
not going to make a spooney of yourself." Presently 
he moved, and lay quietly watching the others they 
were bringing in. 

"Why!" he called, "that's Bertie Curtis, ain't it?" 
as a slight, beautiful-faced boy was carried past him, 
and raised to his place. 

"Yes, it is," answered one of the men, shortly, to 
cover some strong feeling. 

Jim leaned out of his berth, regardless of his pro- 
testing leg, canteen in hand. " Here, Bertie ! " he 
called, " my canteen 's full of fresh water, just filled. 
I know it'll taste good to you." 

The boy's fine face flushed. "O, thank you, Given, 
it would taste deliciously, but I can't take it," — glan- 
cing down. Jim followed the look, to see that both 
arms were gone, close to the graceful, boyish form ; 



272 What Answer? 

seeing which his face twitched painfully, — not with 
his own suffering, — and for a moment words failed 
him. Just then came up one of the sanitary nurses 
with some cooling drink, and fresh, wet bandages for 
the fevered stumps. 

Great drops were standing on Bertie's forehead, 
and ominous gray shadows had already settled about 
the mouth, and under the long, shut lashes. Looking 
at the face, so young, so refined, some mother's pride 
and darling, the nurse brushed back tenderly the fair 
hair, murmuring, " Poor fellow !"" 

The eyes unclosed quickly : " There are no poor fel- 
lows here, sir ! " he said. 

"Well, brave fellow, then ! * 

" I did but do my duty," — a smile breaking through 
the gathering mists. 

Here some poor fellow, — poor indeed, — delirious 
with fever, called out, " Mother 1 mother I I want to 
see my mother ! " 

Tears rushed to the clear, steady eyes, dimmed 
them, dropped down unchecked upon the face. 
The nurse, with a sob choking in his throat, softly 
raised his hand to brush them away. " Mother," Ber- 
tie whispered, — " mother ! " and was gone where God 
wipes away the tears^from all eyes. 

For the space of five minutes, as Jim said after- 
wards, in telling about it, " that boat was like a meet- 



What Answer? 273 

ing-house." Used as they were to death in all forms, 
more than one brave fellow's eye was dim as the silent 
shape was carried away to make place for the stricken 
living, — one of whom was directly brought in, and the 
stretcher put down near Jim. 

"What's up?" he called, for the man's face was 
turned from him, and his wounded body so covered as 
to give no clew to its condition. " What 's wrong ? " 
seeing the bearers did not offer to lift him, and that 
they were anxiously scanning the long rows of berths. 

" Berth 's wrong," one of them answered. 

" What 's the matter with the berth ? " 

" Matter enough ! not a middle one nor a lower 
one empty." 

" Well," called a wounded boy from the third tier, 
" plenty of room up here ; sky-parlor, — airy lodgings, 
— all fine, — I see a lot of empty houses that '11 take 
him in." 

" Like enough, — but he 's about blown to pieces," 
said the bearer in a low voice, " and it '11 be aw — ful 
putting him up there ; however," — commencing to take 
off the light cover. 

" Helloa ! " cried Jim, " that 's a dilapidated-looking 
leg," — his head out, looking at it. " Stop a bit ! " — 
body half after the head, — " you just stop that, and 
come here and catch hold of a fellow ; now put me 
up there. I reckon I '11 bear hoisting better 'n he 

12* R 



274 What Answer? 

will, anyway. Ugh ! ah ! urn ! owh ! here we are ! 
bully ! " 

If Jim had been of the fainting or praying order he 
would certainly have fainted or prayed ; as it was, he 
said " Bully ! " but lay for a while thereafter still as a 
mouse. 

" Given, you 're a brick ! " one of the boys was 
apostrophizing him. Jim took no notice. " And your 
man 's in, safe and sound " ; he turned at that, and 
leaned forward, as well as he could, to look at the oc- 
cupant of his late bed. 

" Jemime ! " he cried, when he saw the face. " I 
say, boys ! it 's Ercildoune — ■ Robert — flag — Wagner 
— hurray — let 's give three cheers for the color-ser- 
geant, — long may he wave ! " 

The men, propped up or lying down, gave the three 
cheers with a will, and then three more ; and then, de- 
lighted with their performance, three more after that, 
Jim winding up the whole with an " a-a-ah, -Tiger ! " 
that made them all laugh ; then relapsing into silence 
and a hard battle with pain. 

A weary voyage, — a weary journey thereafter to the 
Northern hospitals, — some dying by the way, and low- 
ered through the shifting, restless waves, or buried 
with hasty yet kindly hands in alien soil, — accounted 
strangers and foemen in the land of their birth. God 
grant that no tread of rebellion in the years to come, 



What Answer? 275 

nor thunder of contending armies, may disturb their 
peace ! 

Some stopped in the heat and dust of Washington 
to be nursed and tended in the great barracks of 
hospitals, — uncomfortable-looking without, clean and 
spacious and admirable within ; some to their homes, 
on long-desired and eagerly welcomed furloughs, there 
to be cured speedily, the body swayed by the mind ; 
some to suffer and die ; some to struggle against 
winds and tides of mortality and conquer, — yet scarred 
and maimed ; some to go out, as giants refreshed 
with new wine, to take their places once more in the 
great conflict, and fight there faithfully to the end. 

Among these last was Jim ; but not till after many 
a hard battle, and buffet, and back-set did life triumph 
and strength prevail. One thing which sadly retarded 
his recovery was his incessant anxiety about Sallie, and 
his longing to see her once more. He had himself, 
after his first hurt, written her that he was slightly 
wounded ; but when he reached Washington, and the 
surgeon, looking at his shattered leg, talked about am- 
putation and death, Jim decided that Sallie should not 
know a word of all this till something definite was pro- 
nounced. 

" She ought n't to have an ugly, one-legged fellow, 
he said, " to drag round with her ; and, if she knows 
how bad it is, she '11 post straight down here, to nurse 



276 What Answer? 

and look after me, — I know her ! and she '11 have me 
in the end, out of sheer pity ; and I ain't going to 
take any such mean advantage of her : no, sir-ee, not 
if I know myself. If I get well, safe and sound, I '11 
go to her ; and, if I 'm going to die, I '11 send for her ; 
so I '11 wait," — which he did. 

He found, however, that it was a great deal easier 
making the decision, than keeping it when made. 
Sallie, hearing nothing from him, — supposing him 
still in the South, — fearful as she had all along been 
that she stood on uncertain ground, — Mrs. Surrey 
away in New York, — and Robert Ercildoune, as the 
papers asserted in their published lists, mortally 
wounded, — having no indirect means of communica- 
tion with him, and fearing to write again without some 
sign from him, — was sorrowing in silence at home. 

The silence reacted on him ; not realizing its cause 
he grew fretful and impatient, and the fretfulness and 
impatience told on his leg, intensified his fever, and 
put the day of recovery — if recovery it was to be — 
farther into the future. 

" See here, my man," — said the quick little sur- 
geon one day, " you 're worrying about something. 
This '11 never do ; if you don't stop it, you '11 die, as 
sure as fate ; and you might as well make up your 
mind to it at once, — so, now ! " 

" Well, sir," answered Jim, " it 's as good a time 



What Answer? 277 

to die now, I reckon, as often happens ; but I ain't 
dead yet, not by a long shot ; and I ain't going to die 
neither ; so, now, yourself! " 

The doctor laughed. " All right ; if you '11 get up 
that spirit, and keep it, I '11 bet my pile on your recov- 
ery, — but you '11 have to stop fretting. You 've got 
something on your mind that 's troubling you ; and the 
sooner you get rid of it, if you can, the better. That 's 
all I 've got to say." And he marched off. 

"Get rid of it," mused Jim, "how in thunder '11 
I get rid of it if I don't hear from Sallie ? Let me see 
■ — ah ! I have it ! " and looking more cheerful on the 
instant he lay still, watching for the doctor to come 
down the ward once more. " Helloa ! " he called, 
then. " Helloa ! " responded the doctor, coming over 
to him, " what 's the go now ? you 're improved al- 
ready." 

" Got any objection to telling a lie ? " — this might 
be called coming to the point. 

" That depends — " said the doctor. 

" Well, all 's fair in love and war, they say. This is 
for love. Help a fellow ? " 

"Of course, — if I can, — and the fellow 's a good 
one, like Jim Given. What is it you want ? " 

"Well, I want a letter written, and I can't do it my- 
self, you know," — looking down at his still bandaged 
arm, — " likewise I want a lie told in it, and these 



278 What Answer? 

ladies here are all angels, and of course you can't ask 
an angel to tell a lie, — no offence to you; so if you 
can take the time, and '11 do it, I '11 stand your ever- 
lasting debtor, and shoulder the responsibility if you 
7 re afraid of the weight." 

" What sort of a lie ? " 

" A capital one ; listen. I want a young lady to 
know that I 'm wounded in the arm, — you see ? not 
bad; nor nothing over which she need worry, and 
nothing that hurts me much; and I ain't damaged 
in any other way ; legs not mentioned in this concern, 
— you understand ? " The doctor nodded. " But 
it 's tied up my hand, so that I have to get you to say 
all this for me. I '11 be well pretty soon ; and, if I 
can get a furlough, I '11 be up in Philadelphia in a 
jiffy, — so she can just prepare for the infliction, &c. 
Comprendy ? And '11 you do it? " 

" Of course I will, if you don't want the truth told, 
and the fib '11 do you any good ; and, upon my word, 
the way you 're looking I really think it will. So now 
for it." 

Thus the letter was written, and read, and re-read, 
to make sure that there was nothing in it to alarm 
Sallie ; and, being satisfactory on that head, was 
finally sent away, to rejoice the poor girl who had 
waited, and watched, and hoped for it through such a 
weary time. When she answered it, her letter was 



What Answer f 279 

so full of happiness and solicitude, and a love that, 
in spite of herself, spoke out in every line, that Jim 
furtively kissed it, and read it into tatters in the first 
few hours of its possession ; then tucking it away in 
his hospital shirt, over his heart, proceeded to get well 
as fast as fast could be. 

" Well," said the doctor, a few weeks afterwards, as 
Jim was going home on his coveted sick-leave, " Mr. 
Thomas Carlyle calls fibs wind-bags. If that singular 
remedy would work to such a charm with all my men, 
I 'd tell lies with impunity. Good by, Jim, and the 
best of good luck to you." 

"The same to you, Doctor, and I hope you may 
always find a friend in need, to lie for you. Good by, 
and God bless you ! " wringing his hand hard, — 
" and now, hurrah for home ! " 

" Hurrah it is ! " cried the little surgeon after him, 
as, happy and proud, he limped down the ward, and 
turned his face towards home. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

" Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm." — Gray. 

JIM scarcely felt the jolting of the ambulance over 
the city stones, and his impatience and eagerness 
to get across the intervening space made dust, and 
heat, and weariness of travel seem but as feather 
weights, not to be cared for, nor indeed considered at 
all j though, in fact, his arm complained, and his leg 
ached distressingly, and he was faint and weak with- 
out confessing it long before the tiresome journey 
reached its end. 

"No matter," he said to himself; "it '11 be all 
well, or forgotten, at least, when I see Sallie once 
more ; and so, what odds ? " 

The end was gained at last, and he would have 
gone to her fast as certain Rosinantes, yclept hack- 
horses, could carry him, but, stopping for a moment to 
consider, he thought, " No, that will never do ! Go 
to her looking like such a guy? Nary time. I '11 get 
scrubbed, and put on a clean shirt, and make myself 
decent, before she sees me. She always used to look 
nice as a new pin, and she liked me to look so too ; 
so I 'd better put my best foot foremost when she 



What Answer? 281 

has n't laid eyes on me for such an age. I 'm fright 
enough, anyway, goodness knows, with my thinness, 
and my old lame leg ; so — " sticking his head out 
of the window, and using his lungs with astonishing 
vigor — " Driver ! streak like lightning, will you, to the 
1 Merchants '? and you shall have extra fare." 

" Hold your blab there," growled the driver ; " I 
ain't such a pig yet as to take double fare from a 
wounded soldier. You '11 pay me well at half-price, — 
when we get where you want to go," — which they did 
soon. 

" No ! " said Jehu, thrusting back part of the money, 
" I ain't agoin' to take it, so you need n't poke it out at 
me. I 'm all right ; or, if I ain't, I '11 make it up on 
the next broadcloth or officer I carry ; never you fear ! 
us fellows knows how to take care of ourselves, you 'd 
better believe ! " which statement Jim would have 
known to be truth, without the necessity of repetition, 
had he been one of the aforesaid "broadcloths," or 
" officers," and thus better acquainted with the genus 
hack-driver in the ordinary exercise of its profession. 

As it was, he shook hands with the fellow, pocketed 
the surplus change, made his way into the hotel, was 
in his room, in his bath, under the barber's hands, 
cleaned, shaved, brushed, polished, shining, — as he 
himself would have declared, "in a jiffy." Then, de- 
ciding himself to be presentable to the lady of his 



282 What Anszvcr? 

heart, took his crutch and sallied forth, as good-looking 
a young fellow, spite of the wooden appendage, as any 
the sun shone upon in all the big city, and as- happy, 
as it was bright. 

He knew where to go, and, by help of street-cars and 
other legs than his own, he was there speedily. He 
knew the very room towards which to turn ; and, reach- 
ing it, paused to look in through the half-open door, — 
delighted thus to watch and listen for a little space 
unseen. • 

Sallie was sitting, her handsome head bent over her 
sewing, — Frankie gambolling about the floor. 

" O sis ! don't you wish Jim would come home ? " 
queried the youngster. " I do, — I wish he 'd come 
right straight away." 

" Right straight away ? What do you want to see Jim 
for?" 

" O, 'cause he 's nice ; and 'cause he '11 take me to the 
Theayter ; and 'cause he '11 treat, — apples, and pea- 
nuts, and candy, you know, and — and — ice-cream," 
wiping the beads from his little red face, — the last 
desideratum evidently suggested by the fiery summer 
heat. "I say, Sallie!" — a pause — "won't you get 
me some ice-cream this evening?" 

" Yes, Bobbity, if you '11 be a good boy." 

Frankie looked dubious over that proposition. Jim 
never made any such stipulations : so, after another 



What Answer f 283 

pause, in which he was probably considering the whole 
subject with clue and becoming gravity, — evidently 
desiring to hear his own wish propped up by some- 
body else's seconding, — he broke out again, " Now, 
Sallie, don't you just wish Jim would come home ? " 

" O Frankie, don't I ? " cried the girl, dropping her 
work, and stretching out her empty arms as though 
she would clasp some shape in the air. 

Frankie, poor child ! innocently imagining the prof- 
fered embrace was for him, ran forward, for he w r as an 
affectionate little soul, to give Sallie a good hug, but 
found himself literally left out in the cold ; no arms to 
meet, and no Sallie, indeed, to touch him. Something 
big, burly, and blue loomed up on his sight, — some- 
thing that was doing its best to crush Sallie bodily, 
and to devour what was not crushed ; something that 
could say nothing by reason of its lips being so much 
more pleasantly engaged, and whose face was invisible 
through its extraordinary proximity to somebody else's 
face and hair. 

Frankie, finding he could gain neither sight nor 
sound of notice, began to howl. But as neither of the 
hard-hearted creatures seemed to care for the poor 
little chap's howling, he fell upon the coat-tails of the 
big blue obstruction, and pulled at them lustily, — 
not to say viciously, — till their owner turned, and 
beheld him panting and fiery. 



284 What Answer? 

" Helloa, youngster ! what 's to pay now ? " 

" Wow ! if 't ain't Jim. Hooray ! " screeched the 
youngster, first embracing the blue legs, and then pro- 
ceeding to execute a dance upon his head. " Te, te, di 
di, idde i-dum," he sang, coming feet down, finally. 

Evidently the bad boy's language had been cor- 
rupted by his street confreres ; it was a missionary 
ground upon which Sallie entered, more or less faith- 
fully, every day to hoe and weed ; but of this last 
specimen-plant she took no notice, save to laugh as 
Jim, catching him up, first kissed him, then gave him 
a shake and a small spank, and, thrusting a piece 
of currency into his hand, whisked him outside the 
door with a " Come, shaver, decamp, and treat your- 
self to-day," and had it shut and fastened in a twink- 
ling. 

" O Jim ! " she cried then, her soul in her hand- 
some eyes. 

" O Sallie ! " — and he had her fast and tight once 
more. 

An ineffable blank, punctuated liberally with sound- 
ing exclamation points, and strongly marked periods, 
— though how or why a blank should be punctuated 
at all, only blissful lovers could possibly define. 

" Jim, dear Jim ! " whispering it, and snuggling her 
blushing face closer to the faded blue, " can you love 
me after all that has happened ? " 



What Answer? 285 

" Come now ! can I love you, my beauty? Sligh-'y, 
I should think. O, te, te, di di, idde i-dum," — sing- 
ing Frank's little song with his big, gay voice, — "I 
'm happy as a king." 

Happy as a king, that was plain enough. And 
what shall be said of her, as he sat down, and, resting 
the wounded leg, — stiff and sore yet, — held Sallie 
on his other knee, — then fell to admiring her while 
she stroked his mustache and his crisp, curling hair, 
looking at both and at him altogether with an ex- 
pression of contented adoration in her eyes. 

Frank, tired of prowling round the door, candy in 
hand, here thrust his head in at the window, and, 
unfortunately for his plans, sneezed. "Mutual-ad- 
miration society ! " he cried at that, seeing that he 
was detected in any case, and running away, — his fun 
spoiled as soon as it began. 

" We are a handsome couple," laughed Jim, hold- 
ing back her face between both hands, — " ain't we, 
now ? " 

Yes, they were, — no mistake about that, handsome 
as pictures. 

And merry as birds, through all of his short stay. 
They would see no danger in the future : Jim had 
been scathed in time past so often, yet come out safe 
and sound, that they would have no fear for what was 
to befall him in time to come. If they had, neither 



286 What Answer? 

showed it to the other. Jim thought, " Sallie would 
break her heart, if she knew just what is down there, 
— so it would be a pity to talk about it " ; and Sallie 
thought, " It 's right for Jim to go, and I won't say 
a word to keep him back, no matter how I feel." 

The furlough was soon — ah! how soon — out, 
the days of happiness over ; and Jim, holding her in 
a last close embrace, said his farewell : " Come, Sallie, 
you 're not to cry now, and make me a coward. It '11 
only be' for a little while ; the Rebs canH stand it 
much longer, and then — " 

" Ah, Jim ! but if you should — " 

" Yes, but I sha'n't, you see ; not a bit of it ; don't 
you go to think it. ' I bear ' — what is it ? O — 
' a charmed life,' as Mr. Macbeth says, and you '11 see 
me back right and tight, and up to time. One kiss 
more, dear. God bless you ! good by ! " and he was 
gone. 

She leaned out of the window, — she smiled after 
him, kissed her hand, waved her handkerchief, so long 
as he could see them, — till he had turned a corner 
way down the street, — and smile, and hand, and 
handkerchief were lost to his sight ; then flung herself 
on the floor, and cried as though her very heart would 
break. " God send him home, — send him safe and 
soon home ! " she implored ; entreaty made for how 
many loved ones, by how many aching hearts, that 



What Answer f 287 

speedily lost the need of saying amen to any such 
petition, — the prayer for the living lost in mourning for 
the dead. Heaven grant that no soul that reads this 
ever may have the like cause to offer such prayer 
again ! 



CHAPTER XXII. 

"When we see the dishonor of a thing, then it is time to renounce it." — 
Plutarch. 

A LETTER which Sallie wrote to Jim a few weeks 
after his departure tells its own story, and hence 
shall be repeated here. 

Philadelphia, October 29, 1863. 

Dear Jim : — 

I take my pen in hand this morning to write you a 
letter, and to tell you the news, though I don't know 
much of the last except about Frankie and myself. 
However, I suppose you will care more to hear that 
than any other, so I will begin. 

Maybe you will be surprised to hear that Frankie 
and I are at Mr. Ercildoune's. Well, we are, — and I 
will tell you how it came about. Not long after you 
went away, Frank began to pine, and look droopy. 
There was n't any use in giving him medicine, for it 
did n't do him a bit of good. He could n't eat, and he 
did n't sleep, and I was at my wits' ends to know what 
to do for him. 

One day Mrs. Lee, — that Mr. Ercildoune's house- 
keeper, — an old English lady she is, and she 's lived 
with him ever since he was married, and before he 



What Answer? 289 

came here, — a real lady, too, — came in with some 
sewing, some fine shirts for Mr. Robert Ercildoune. 
I asked after him, and you '11 be glad to know that 
he 's recovering. He did n't have to lose his leg, as 
they feared ; and his arm is healing ; and the wound 
in his breast getting well. Mrs. Lee says she 's very 
sorry the stump is n't longer, so that he could wear a 
Palmer arm, — but she 's got no complaints to make ; 
they 're only too glad and thankful to have him living 
at all, after such a dreadful time. 

While I was talking with her, Frankie called me 
from the next room, and began to cry. You would n't 
have known him, — he cried at everything, and was 
so fretful and cross I could scarcely get along at all. 
When I got him quiet, and came back, Mrs. Lee says, 
" What 's the matter with Frank ? " so I told her I 
did n't know, — but would she see him ? Well, she 
saw him, and shook her head ia a bad sort of way 
that scared me awfully, and I suppose she saw I was 
frightened, for she said, "All he wants is plenty of 
fresh air, and good, wholesome country food and exer- 
cise." I can tell you, spite of that, she went away, 
leaving me with heavy enough a heart. 

The next day Mr. Ercildoune came in. How he is 
changed ! I have n't seen him before since Mrs. Sur- 
rey died, and that of itself was enough to kill him, 
without this dreadful time about Mr. Robert. 

13 s 



290 What Answer? 

" Good morning, Miss Sallie," says he, " how are 
you ? and I 'm glad to see you looking so well." So I 
told him I was well, and then he asked for Frankie. 
" Mrs. Lee tells me," he said, " that your little brother 
is quite ill, and that he needs country air and exercise. 
He can have them both at The Oaks ; so if you '11 get 
him ready, the carriage will come for you at whatever 
time you appoint. Mrs. Lee can find you plenty of 
work as long as you care to stay." He looked as 
if he wanted to say something more, but did n't ; and 
I was just as sure as sure could be that it was some- 
thing about Miss Francesca, probably about her having 
me out there so much ; for his face looked so sad, and 
his lips trembled so, I knew that must be in his mind. 
And when I thought of it, and of such an awful fate 
as it was for her, so young, and handsome, and happy, 
like the great baby I am, I just threw my apron over 
my head, and burst out crying. 

" Don't ! " he said, — " don't ! " in O, such a voice ! 
It was like a knife going through me ; and he went 
quick out of the room, and down stairs, without even 
saying good by. 

Well, we came out the next day, — and I have plen- 
ty to do, and Frankie is getting real bright and strong. 
I can see Mr. Ercildoune likes to have us here, be- 
cause of the connection with Miss Francesca. She was 
so interested in us, and so kind to us, and he knows 



What Answer? 291 

I loved her so very dearly, — and if it 's any comfort 
to him I'm sure I'm glad to be here, without taking 
Frankie into the account, — for the poor gentleman 
looks so bowed and heart-broken that it makes one's 
heart ache just to see him. Mr. Robert is n't well 
enough to be about yet, hut he sits up for a while every 
day, and is getting on — the doctor says — nicely. 
They both talk about you often ; and Mr. Ercildoune, 
I can see, thinks everything of you for that good, kind 
deed of yours, when you and Mr. Robert were on the 
transport together. Dear Jim, he don't know you as 
well as I do, or he 'd know that you could n't help 
doing such things, — not if you tried. 

I hope you'll like the box that comes with this. 
Mr. Robert had it packed for you in his own room, 
to see that everything went in that you 'd like. Of 
course, as he 's been a soldier himself, he knows better 
what they want than anybody else can. 

Dear Jim, do take care of yourself; don't go and 
get wounded ; and don't get sick ; and, whatever you 
do, don't let the rebels take you prisoner, unless you 
want to drive me frantic. I think about you pretty 
much all the time, and pray for you, as well as I know 
how, every night when I go to bed, and am always 

Your own loving 

Sallie. 



292 What Answer? 

"Wow! " said Jim, as he read, "she 's in a good 
berth there." So she was, — and so she stayed. 
Frankie got quite well once more, and Sallie began to 
think of going, but Mr. Ercildoune evidently clung to 
her and to the sunshine which the bright little fellow 
cast through the house. Sallie was quite right in her 
supposition. Francesca had cared for this girl, had 
been kind to her and helped her, — and his heart 
went out to everything that reminded him of his dear, 
dead child. So it happened that autumn passed, and 
winter, and spring, — and still they stayed. In fact, 
she was domesticated in the house, and, for the first 
time in years, enjoyed the. delightful sense of a home. 
Here, then, she set up her rest, and remained : here, 
when the " cruel war was over," the armies disbanded, 
the last regiments discharged, and Jimmy " came 
marching home," brown, handsome, and a captain, 
here he found her, — and from here he married and 
carried her away. 

It was a happy little wedding, though nobody was 
there beside the essentials, save the family and a dear 
friend of Robert's, who was with him at the time, as he 
had been before and would be often again, — none 
other than William Surrey's favorite cousin and friend, 
Tom Russell. 

The letter which Surrey had written never reached 
his hand till he lay almost dying from the effects of 



What Answer? 20^ 

wounds and exposure, after he had been brought in 
safety to our lines by his faithful black friends, at M 3 
ris Island. Surrey had not mistaken his temper ; gay, 
reckless fellow, as he was, he was a thorough gentle- 
man, in whom could harbor no small spite, nor petty 
prejudice, — and without a mean fibre in his being. 
At a glance he took in the whole situation, and ins 
ing upon being propped up in bed, with his own hand 
— though slowly, and as a work of magnitude — suc- 
ceeded in writing a cordial letter of congratulation 
and affection, that would have been to Surrey like the 
grasp of a brothers hand in a strange and fore 
country, had it ever reached his touch and eyes. 

But even while Tom lay writing his letter, occasion- 
ally muttering, " They '11 have a devilish hard time of 
it ! " or " Poor young un ! " or " She 's one in a mil- 
lion ! " or some such sentence which marked his feel- 
ing and care, — these two of whom he thought, to 
whose future he looked with such loving anxiety, were 
beyond the reach of human help or hindrance, — done 
alike with the sorrows and joys of time. 

From a distance, with the help of a glass, and ab- 
sorbing interest, he had followed the movements of 
the flag and its bearer, and had cheered, till he fainted 
from weakness and exhaustion, as he saw them safe at 
las:. It was with delight that he found himself on the 
same transport with Ercildoune, and discovered in hi a 



294 What Answer? 

the brother of the young girl for whom, in the past, he 
had had so pleasing and deep a regard, and whose 
present and future were so full of interest for him, in 
their new and nearer relations. 

These two young men, unlike as they were in most 
particulars, were drawn together by an irresistible at- 
traction. They had that common bond, always felt 
and recognized by those who possess it, of the gentle 
blood, — tastes and instincts in common, and a fine, 
chivalrous sentiment which each felt and thoroughly ap- 
preciated in the other. The friendship thus begun 
grew with the passing years, and was intensified a 
hundred fold by a portion -of the past to which they 
rarely referred, but which lay always at the bottom of 
their hearts. They had each for those two who had 
lain dead together in the streets of New York the 
strongest and tenderest love, — and though it was not 
a tie about which they could talk, it bound them to- 
gether as with chains of steel. 

Russell was with Ercildoune at the time of the wed- 
ding, and entered into it heartily, as they all did. The 
result was, as has been written, the gayest and merriest 
of times. Sallie's dress, which Robert had given her, 
was a sight to behold ; and the pretty jewels, which 
were a part of his gift, and the long veil, made her 
look, as Jim declared, " so handsome he did n't know 
her," — though that must have been one of Jim's 



What Answer? 295 

stories, or else he was in the habit of making love to 
strange ladies with extraordinary ease and effrontery. 

The breakfast was another sight to behold. As 
Mary the cook said, to Jane the housemaid, " If they 'd 
been born kings and queens, Mrs. Lee could n't have 
laid herself out more ; it 's grand, so it is, — just you 
go and see " ; which Jane proceeded to do, and forth- 
with thereafter corroborated Mary's enthusiastic state- 
ment. 

There were plenty of presents, too : and when it was 
all over, and they were in the carriage, to be sent to 
the station, Mr. Ercildoune, holding Sallie's hand in 
farewell, left there a bit of paper, " which is for you," 
he said. " God protect, and keep you happy, my 
child ! " Then they were gone, with many kind adieus 
and good wishes called and sent after them. When 
they were seated in the cars, Sallie looked at her bit of 
paper, and read on its outer covering, " A wedding- 
gift to Sallie Howard from my dear daughter Frances- 
ca," and found within the deed of a beautiful little 
home. God bless her ! say we, with Mr. Ercildoune. 
God bless them both, and may they live long to enjoy 
it! 

That afternoon, as Tom and Robert were driving, 
Russell, noting the unwonted look of life and activity, 
and the gay flags flung to the breeze, demanded what 
it all meant. " Why," said he, " it is like a field day." 



296 What Answer? 

" It is so," answered Robert, " or what is the same ; 
it is election day." 

" Bless my soul ! so it is ; and a soldier to be elected. 
Have you voted ? " 

" No ! " 

" No ? Here 's a nice state of affairs ! a fellow 
that '11 get his arm blown off for a flag, but won't take 
the trouble to drop a scrap of paper for it. Come, I '11 
drive you over." 

"You forget, Russell!" 

"Forget? Nonsense! This isn't i860, but 1865. 
I don't forget ; I remember. It is after the war now, 
— come." 

" As you please," said Robert. He knew the dis- 
appointment that awaited his friend, but he would not 
thwart him now. 

There was a great crowd about the polling-office, 
and they all looked on with curious interest as the two 
young men came up. No demonstration was made, 
though a half-dozen brutal fellows uttered some coarse 
remarks. 

" Hear the damned Rebs talk ! " said a man in the 
army blue, who, with keen eyes, was observing the 
scene. " They 're the same sort of stuff we licked in 
Carolina." 

" Ay," said another, " but with a difference ; blue 
led there ; but gray '11 come off winner here, or I 'm 
mistaken." 



What Answer? 297 

Robert stood leaning upon his cane ; a support 
which he would need for life ; one empty sleeve 
pinned across his breast, over the scar from a deep 
and yet unhealed wound. The clear October sun 
shone down upon his form and face, upon the broad 
folds of the flag that waved in triumph above him, 
upon a country where wars and rumors of wars had 
ceased. 

" Courage, man ! what ails you ? " whispered Rus- 
sell, as he felt his comrade tremble ; " it 's a ballot in 
place of a bayonet, and all for the same cause ; lay it 
down." 

Robert put out his hand. 

" Challenge the vote ! " " Challenge the vote ! " 
" No niggers here ! " sounded from all sides. 

The bit of paper which Ercildoune had placed on 
the window-ledge fluttered to the ground on the outer 
side, and, looking at Tom, Robert said quietly, " i860 
or 1865 ? — i s tne war ended ? " 

" No ! " answered Tom, taking his arm, and walking 
away. " No, my friend ! so you and I will continue 
in the service." 

" Not ended ; — it is true ! how and when will it 
be closed ? " 

"That is for the loyal people of America to de- 
cide," said Russell, as they turned their faces towards 
home. 

13* 



298 What Answer f 

How and when will it be closed ? a question asked 
by the living and the dead, — to which America must 
respond. 

Among the living is a vast army : black and white, 
— shattered, and maimed, and blind : and these say, 
" Here we stand, shattered and maimed, that the body 
politic might be perfect ! blind forever, that the glori- 
ous sun of liberty might shine abroad throughout the 
land, for all people, through all coming time." 

And the dead speak too. From their crowded 
graves come voices of thrilling and persistent pathos, 
whispering, " Finish the work that has fallen from our 
nerveless hands. Let no weight of tyranny, nor taint 
of oppression, nor stain of wrong, cumber the soil, 
nor darken the land we died to save. 



NOTE. 

O INCE it is impossible for any one memory to carry 
the entire record of the war, it is well to state, 
that almost every scene in this book is copied from life, 
and that the incidents of battle and camp are part of 
the history of the great contest. 

The story of Fort: Wagner is one that needs no such 
emphasis, it is too thoroughly known ; that of the Color- 
Sergeant, whose proper name is W. H. Carney, is taken 
from a letter written by General M. S. Littlefield to Colo- 
nel A. G. Browne, Secretary to Governor Andrew. 

From the New York Tribune and the Providence Jour- 
nal were taken the accounts of the finding of Hunt, the 
coming of the slaves into a South Carolina camp, and the 
voluntary carrying, by black men, ere they were enlisted, 
of a schooner into the fight at Newbern. Than these two 
papers, none were considered more reliable and trustwor- 
thy in their war record. 

Almost every paper in the North published the narrative 
of the black man pushing off the boat, for which an official 
report is responsible. The boat was a flat-boat, with a 
company of soldiers on board; and the battery under 
the fire of which it fell was at Rodman's Point, North 



300 Note. 

Carolina. In drawing the outlines of this, as of the 
others, I have necessarily used a somewhat free . pen- 
cil, but the main incident of each has been faithfully 
preserved. 

The disabled black soldier my own eyes saw thrust from 
a car in Philadelphia. 

The portraits of Ercildoune and his children may seem 
to some exaggerated ; those who have, as I, the rare 
pleasure of knowing the originals, will say, " the half has 
not been told." 

Every leading New York paper, Democratic and Re- 
publican, was gone over, ere the summary of the Riots was 
made ; and I think the record will be found historically 
accurate. The Anglo-African gives the story of poor 
Abram Franklin ; and the assault on Surrey has its like- 
ness in the death of Colonel O'Brien. 

In a conversation between Surrey and Francesca, allu- 
sion is made to an act the existence of which I have fre- 
quently heard doubted. I therefore copy here a part 
of the " Retaliatory Act," passed by the Rebel Govern- 
ment at Richmond, and approved by its head, May i, 
1863: — 

" Sec. 4. Every white person, being a commissioned 
officer, or acting as such, who, during the present war, 
shall command negroes or mulattoes in arms against the 
Confederate States, or who shall arm, train, organize, or 
prepare negroes or mulattoes for military service against 
the Confederate States, or who shall voluntarily aid ne- 
groes or mulattoes in any military enterprise, attack, 
or conflict in such service, shall be deemed as inciting 



Note. 301 

servile insurrection ; and shall, if captured, be put to 
death." 

I have written this book, and send it to the con- 
sciences and the hearts of the American' people. May- 
God, for whose " little ones " I have here spoken, vivify 
its words. 



THE END. 



Cambridge : Stereotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.